Hands holding heart.

Fellowship, New CPA Address Need for Advanced Palliative Care Training 

In honor of Palliative Care Month, we’re highlighting our Doctoral/Post-doctoral Clinical Nursing Fellowship in Palliative Care, which offers a unique opportunity for Columbia Nursing DNP students and post-docs to gain specialized experience and knowledge in this vital field. 

Eight fellows have graduated since the fellowship’s launch in 2013, and all have gone on to leadership roles in palliative care. 

The program is the only palliative care fellowship based in a school of nursing, and is also Columbia Nursing’s only clinical fellowship. 

“There is a tremendous need for advanced practice nurses to be educated in the palliative care specialty,” says Marlene McHugh, DNP, associate professor and co-founder of the fellowship. “And we need to have a sustainable model to continue to educate nurse practitioners in specialty palliative care moving forward.” 

While the US government generously funds fellowships for MDs, McHugh notes there is no equivalent cash stream to cover specialty training for advanced practice nurses. The nursing school’s palliative care fellowship is funded through private donations. 

Fellows complete at least 500 clinical hours under the direct supervision of a palliative care provider. They work alongside medical fellows in New York Presbyterian Hospital’s palliative care service and in a range of other in and outpatient clinical settings. Here they gain a strong base in medicine including pain and symptom relief and management of complex disease in adult patients. 

Palliative care nursing faculty in addition to Marlene McHugh including Mary Tresgallo, DNP, assistant professor and Penelope Buschman, MS, assistant professor and co-founder of the fellowship, provide guided study in other essential areas of care including ethical issues, therapeutic communication, and grief and bereavement.  

Columbia Nursing will soon begin offering an online Certificate of Professional Achievement in Palliative Care Across the Lifespan, which the university approved this fall. “We’re looking at this program as a way to provide very high-level academic preparation to advanced practice nurses across the country,” Buschman says. “And we will welcome international nurses as well.”