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Columbia Nursing Offers New Certificate in Palliative Care

April 12, 2022

Starting in September 2022, Columbia University School of Nursing will offer a Certificate for Professional Achievement in Palliative Care Across the Life Span for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). 

The school will host a virtual information session for applicants interested in the program on May 4 at 6 p.m. EST. 

The certificate program takes a lifespan approach, addressing palliative care for perinatal, pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients, in all care settings. Instructors are practicing Columbia Nursing faculty with specialty certification. 

“We’re looking at this program as a way to provide very high-level academic preparation to advanced practice nurses across the country,” says Penelope Buschman, MS, an assistant professor at Columbia Nursing and co-director of the program.  "APRNs with palliative care skills are urgently needed to help improve the quality and equity of care for seriously ill patients, and this demand will only grow.” 

Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with serious illness and their families by supporting their clinical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. It is increasingly being recognized as an essential element of high-quality care for seriously ill patients, regardless of age, stage of illness, prognosis, or whether they are receiving curative treatment. Multiple studies show more widespread use of palliative care improves patient outcomes and satisfaction while promoting equity in health and health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the importance of palliative care in providing seriously ill patients with care that honors their wishes and maintains their dignity, especially at the end of life. 

“Advanced practice nurses who complete the program will be ready to provide evidence-based, competent, and compassionate care to seriously ill patients and their families, as well as support to caregiving colleagues,” says Marlene McHugh, DNP, associate professor at Columbia Nursing and program co-director. “They will be prepared to take leadership roles in palliative care, to integrate palliative care into practice and education, and to champion palliative care nursing in clinical settings and schools of nursing.” 

After completing the program APRNs will also be prepared to discuss how patients and family members experience suffering, loss, and bereavement while recognizing the diversity in belief systems and traditions. They will understand the legal and ethical principles involved in analyzing complex issues in palliative care, and the role of personal values and professional codes of ethics.  

Certificate awardees will also gain a broad understanding of how public health management, policy, and service delivery influence the provision of palliative care, and will explore personal attitudes, feelings, values, and expectations about death and grief. They will learn to formulate self-care strategies to promote healing and resilience.  

The program consists of four three-credit courses over two consecutive 15-week semesters, and is open to licensed, practicing nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. Tuition will be $1,000 per credit, or $12,000 in total.  

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