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Palliative Care Minor

So much of nursing is focused on caring for patients during difficult and transitional periods, and nowhere is this more important than in the field of palliative care. This kind of care is both patient- and family-centered and focuses on supporting quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. 

Our program

In our palliative care program, you’ll learn to work throughout the continuum of illness, addressing the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of your patients while bolstering their autonomy and access to information. This high-demand speciality is relevant for all types of nursing practice, including gerontology, oncology, pediatrics, home care, and mental health.

Our internationally recognized faculty lead research and national agendas and practice in palliative care. We are among only 20 schools in the world to offer the opportunity for specialization in palliative care.


Our Palliative Care Minor/Post-Master’s Certificate is comprised of two required coursesPrinciples of Palliative Care and An Evidence-based Approach to Managing Symptoms in Advanced Illness—and one elective course of your choosing.


Please note that this minor/certificate does not specifically prepare you to sit for the Hospice and Palliative Care Credentialing Center’s Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN®) exam. There are minimum palliative care practice hours required to be exam-eligible and our program does not include a clinical component.

Hospice vs. Palliative care

Hospice and palliative care are similar yet distinct. BOTH types of care:

  • Focus on people with advanced or serious illness
  • Involve patients and families as recipients of care and decision-makers in that care
  • Are guided by patients’ and families’ preferences for care
  • Aim at enhancing the quality of life for both patients and families
  • Are delivered by interdisciplinary teams
  • Address the physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs of patients and families.

What sets hospice and palliative care apart in the nursing home is how they are delivered. Guided by the regulations in the Medicare Hospice Benefit, hospice care typically focuses on the last six months of a person’s life. Most hospice care occurs in the patient’s private residence, although additional sites include nursing homes and assisted living facilities (recognized by Medicare as the person’s home), and inpatient hospice units.

Palliative care includes hospice care but is not limited to the last six months of a person’s life. It should be offered to any patient with a serious illness or permanent debilitating injury. Medical therapies that are aimed at treating the terminal disease can be delivered along with comfort-focused therapies. For example, a cancer patient could be receiving chemotherapy to cure or slow down the disease while also receiving care from the palliative care team. In the U.S., palliative care services are typically delivered by a specialized consultation team operating in an acute care or outpatient setting. However, palliative care also is expanding in other clinical and community settings.