MUSC to offer country's first DNP in palliative care

Digital Team Writer
June 16, 2020

Nurse giving care to elder woman in palliative care.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Nursing was approved to introduce the country's first known Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a palliative care concentration. The new online program answers the growing demand for health care providers who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage care for individuals and families living with a serious illness. This unique program focuses on the value of palliative care as a basic human right and the care of individuals with life-threatening, progressive illnesses, emphasizing respect for patients' and families' beliefs, values, and choices.

The Post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice in Lifespan Palliative Care program meets the needs of advanced practice nurses who want to gain a deeper understanding of the physical, psychological, spiritual, and social needs of patients and their families who live with a serious illness from the time of diagnosis through end of life and bereavement. The curriculum, designed to be completed in five semesters, will prepare the graduate to use analytical methods to improve quality and safety in healthcare systems through organizational leadership, systems thinking, and practice management in palliative care.

Palliative care is the practice of providing symptom relief from serious or life-limiting illness while promoting and improving the quality of life for both the patient and their families. Often confused with hospice or end-of-life care, palliative care is a central part of treatment and support, based on unique expertise, delivered at any time during the trajectory of a serious or life-limiting illness. The goal is to prevent and ease suffering and improve quality of life.

"We listened to our students, and many working nurses who expressed the need for advanced education and training because they feel they are not adequately prepared to lead and direct the treatment of complex health challenges faced by those who need palliative care," said Linda Weglicki, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the College of Nursing. "Last year, there were only 219 certified palliative care nurses and 104 physicians board-certified in palliative medicine in South Carolina. It is clear that more doctorally prepared nurses are needed to serve our state's growing aging population, and those facing diagnoses associated with serious and life-limiting illnesses."

Graduates of DNP in palliative care program will not only learn how to communicate effectively with their patients and families, but they will become experts to others on how to successfully integrate palliative care into the standard of practice of health care for those who are suffering due to serious illness while focusing on the quality of life or relief of pain and suffering.

Applications will be accepted beginning August 15, 2020 for the August 2021 cohort. For more information, contact lead faculty member, Carrie Cormack, DNP, APRN, CPNP-BC, at




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Keywords: academics, DNP