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. The goal of palliative care is to promote quality of life despite challenges diagnoses and disease progression.

Our palliative care specialty offers you the opportunity to have advanced training in the care of 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 important components to person-centered goals of care. This distance-based course is based on principles and philosophy of palliative care and includes evidence-based guidelines from the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care. On-campus intensives provide you with opportunities 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 a variety of clinical settings.

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

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

  • Clinical experiences available with internationally renowned Duke palliative care faculty

  • 8 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 different 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 of programs 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. By providing specialty education at a distance we are able to provide quality education to a variety of students across the country. Students learn from a variety of board-certified clinicians and scientists from DUSON as well as 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 who is either enrolled in one of our nurse practitioner programs or is an experienced nurse practitioner who is 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 are able to 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 who is either enrolled in one of our nurse practitioner programs or is an experienced nurse practitioner who is 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 critical skills necessary to improve the care of their patients who have chronic, life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses. For example, our students learn through didactic and simulation critical therapeutic communication skills, promote decision-making, advanced assessment, diagnosis and symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual care for a variety of vulnerable populations with diverse cultural needs across the illness trajectory.

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

  • NUR 852: 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 prior to 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 instructions for the Specialty Certificate application.. Enrollment decisions are made by the lead faculty of the specialty based on space availability.

    Learn more about our curriculum.

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