Palliative Care Specialty

Palliative CarePalliative Care is a specialty committed to delivering holistic patient- and family-centered care by an interdisciplinary healthcare team across an individual’s entire illness trajectory, from diagnosis to end-of-life. Despite challenges, diagnoses, and disease progression, palliative care promotes quality of life.

Our palliative care specialty offers you the opportunity to have advanced training in treating individuals with life-limiting illnesses to maintain quality of life by integrating physical and psychosocial aspects of palliative care symptom management. Ethical considerations are explored as essential components of person-centered goals of care. This distance-based course is based on the principles and philosophy of palliative care and includes evidence-based guidelines from the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care. On-campus intensives allow you to engage with palliative care clinicians and inquire about novel research and innovative practice. In the synthesis course, you will work directly with clinicians practicing in palliative care across various clinical settings.

Coursework and clinical experiences prepare you to practice in outpatient primary care settings as the clinical expert in palliative care. The specialty courses provide the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate expertise in the care of palliative care across the lifespan.

  • The curriculum includes three specific palliative care courses integrated within the nurse practitioner major

  • Clinical experiences available with internationally renowned Duke palliative care faculty

  • 9 credit hours (minimum)

  • Provides 168 clinical hours in palliative care

  • Spring start only

Q&A with Lead Faculty Tara Albrecht

Q: What attracts you to palliative care?
A: Skilled palliative care clinicians create space for compassion, support, and hope while in unison delivering evidence-based clinical care to the patient and family as a unit. It is an area of nursing that is challenging in many ways but also deeply meaningful and rewarding.

Q: What makes the palliative specialty unique?
A: Our Palliative Care Specialty program is one of only a handful across the country. As part of our #2 ranked graduate nursing school (2021 US News and World Reports), the Palliative Care Specialty is an online program. We can provide quality education to various students across the country by providing specialty education at a distance. Students learn from various board-certified clinicians and scientists from DUSON and the renowned Palliative Care Program at Duke University Hospital, who are nationally and internationally recognized for their work.

Q: What type of nurse should consider a DUSON certificate in palliative care?
A: Any clinician enrolled in one of our nurse practitioner programs or is an experienced nurse practitioner currently delivering care to individuals with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness.  This may include clinicians who want or are practicing in pediatrics, primary care, acute care, emergency care, intensive care, or other specialty care areas (e.g., cardiac, renal, hepatic, oncology, pulmonary, infectious disease). Ultimately, patients and their families can benefit from clinicians who have received training and can provide primary palliative care, as well as those who are specialists in palliative care.

Q: Describe an excellent candidate for the palliative specialty?
A: A clinician either enrolled in one of our nurse practitioner programs or is an experienced nurse practitioner currently delivering care to individuals with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness.

Q: How can the palliative specialty enhance a nurse's career?
A: By receiving training in palliative care through our program at DUSON, clinicians will develop the critical skills necessary to improve the care of their patients with chronic, life-threatening, or life-limiting illnesses. For example, our students learn critical therapeutic communication skills through didactic and simulation, promote decision-making, advanced assessment, diagnosis and symptom management, and psychosocial and spiritual care for various vulnerable populations with diverse cultural needs across the illness trajectory.

  • NUR 851: Foundations and Physical Aspects of Palliative Care (Spring only)

  • NUR 853: Psychosocial Aspects of Palliative Care (Summer only)

  • NUR 855: Advanced Practice Nursing in Adult-Gerontology: Palliative Care Specialty

Enrollment Options

If you are interested in adding this specialty to your academic plan, you must complete the Add a Specialty Form. This form must be submitted to the MSN Program Office via email (son‐ at least 10 days before the start of the semester.

Nurse practitioners with an MSN degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution and nurse practitioner students from other regionally accredited colleges or universities interested in earning a certificate in this specialty should follow the instructions for the Specialty Certificate application. Enrollment decisions are made by the lead faculty of the specialty based on space availability.


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