Frequently Asked Questions

Palliative Care Throughout the Lifespan for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)

What is a Certificate of Professional Achievement (CPA)?

A program leading to a Certificate of Professional Achievement (CPA) offered by Columbia University through one of its schools as an organized, stand-alone curriculum of 4 credit-bearing courses totaling 12 credits taken for letter grades. Students may not receive a CPA for completing a major, minor, or concentration or for taking courses that count towards a degree or certificate 

What is a CPA in Palliative Care?

In response to growing numbers of elderly persons with advanced disease as well as young people living into adulthood with chronic, life-limiting illness, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2020 proposed development of university-based palliative care programs providing in-depth specialized preparation for competency-based certification for mid-career nurses. This recommendation met the rise of the 2020 pandemic with its host of issues around complex medical management, racial disparities, bioethical conundra, and its devastating effect on caregivers. This confluence of factors added urgency to the need for all APRNs to have robust education in palliative care nursing. 

Do I qualify for a certificate?

This program is offered only to licensed, practicing nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.

When are the courses offered?

Courses are offered in fall and spring (2 consecutive semesters).

What is the total number of weeks that it takes a typical student to complete the program?

30 weeks (two 15-week semesters).

Can course credits in this program be counted towards another degree or certificate?

Course credits cannot be counted toward another degree or certificate.

Who are the program directors?

Associate Professor Marlene E. McHugh DNP, AGACNP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN 

Assistant Professor Clinical Nursing Penelope R. Buschman MS, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN 

What are the requirements for admission to the program?

Students must be nurse practitioners and currently licensed to practice.

Can I apply if I am an international student?

International students must be proficient in spoken and written English language and will be required to interview with program directors.

Will the courses qualify me to achieve advanced certification in palliative care nursing?

While this certificate program provides the academic content required for the Hospice and Palliative Care Credentialing Center’s Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse Examination (ACHPN®), there are 500 supervised clinical hours required to be exam eligible. These must be acquired outside of the program.

What type of positions will students be qualified for after completing the program?

APRNs who have completed the program will be prepared to provide evidence-based competent and compassionate care to patients and families as well as support to caregiving colleagues. APRNs will be prepared to take leadership roles in palliative care and to integrate content into practice and education.

Is this program available in-person or online?

The program is online with synchronous and asynchronous components.

Does the program include a clinical component?

The program offers the opportunity to discuss case-based narratives but does not include clinical hours.

Are the courses graded pass/fail?

Letter grades are required.

Are CPA students eligible for financial aid?

CPA students are not eligible for financial aid.

Is this program open to students focusing on pediatric palliative care?

Yes, the program focuses on palliative care throughout the lifespan (perinatal, pediatric, adult and geriatric) in all care settings and has a unique curriculum including a seminar providing context for the discussion of therapeutic communication, assessment and management of pain and symptoms, and ethical issues within specific populations. SON faculty having expertise in these areas will guide the case-based discussions.