Palliative Care Certificate

Sponsor/Type: The David R. Clare and Margaret C. Clare Foundation
Project Period: 09/09/2019 – 06/30/2025


MUSC CON will develop a post-Master of Science in Nursing to Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) palliative care track and post-graduate certificate. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) defines palliative care as “patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life…and occurs throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs…to facilitate patient…choice” (NHPCO, 2018).

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) trained in palliative care could fill an important gap in access to evidence-based, high quality care. Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide holistic, person-centered care, advocate and seek patient goals for care (AACN, 2018a; AANP, 2019) and this correlates perfectly with palliative care (Fennimore, et al., 2018). NPs are licensed to diagnose and treat health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management using a comprehensive approach (AANP, 2019).

Research has demonstrated that implementing palliative care early leads to a reduction in costly and preventable hospitalizations, readmission, and emergency department visits (Meier, 2011). It is important to note that hospice care is part of the palliative care continuum. Hospice care specifically addresses the end of life needs whereas palliative care stresses quality of life for the patient and family living with a serious and life-limiting disease from time of diagnosis throughout the trajectory (Meier, 2011).

With the aging population living longer and the number of serious illnesses on the rise, the demand for health care services including lifespan palliative care, is expected to rise to an unprecedented high in South Carolina (see below). These changing demographics creates an important need for trained healthcare providers, such as APRNs trained specifically in palliative care with a post-graduate certificates or post-MSN DNP degree, who have the specialized knowledge and skills in providing palliative care, for both adults and children.

Unfortunately, it is also well-recognized that there is not a sufficient cohort of trained palliative care healthcare providers to meet those diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses or conditions. The World Health Organization identifies a number of pediatric and adult diseases which benefit from palliative care:

Pediatric - cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, congenital anomalies, blood and immune disorders, HIV/AIDS, meningitis, kidney diseases, neurological diseases, and neonatal conditions.

Adult - Alzheimer’s and other dementias, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The treatment and care a child or adult needs can affect a parent’s or family’s ability to continue working, care for other children and critical relationships (e.g. marriage). Palliative care interventions address these issues and lead to improved quality of life for the child and family.

For more information contact
Carrie Cormack