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Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Programs – 2021


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you a nurse practitioner looking for a change in the type of work you do? Do you have a desire to improve the quality of life for your patients by easing the pain they experience from severe or complex illness or disease? If so, one of the many palliative care nurse practitioner programs available in the United States could help you achieve the career you have been searching for. In this article, I will share some of the most popular palliative care nurse practitioner programs for 2021 with you. I will tell you about applying to the programs, what they cost, and give you some information about the coursework. Then, we will wrap up with some frequently asked questions to help you decide if becoming a palliative care nurse practitioner is right for you.


Top 5 Benefits of Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Programs


As with all career choices, there are pros and cons to consider about becoming a palliative care nurse practitioner. Some of the benefits of enrolling in one of the available palliative care nurse practitioner programs and pursuing this career include the following.

1. Income: Palliative care nurse practitioners typically begin their careers earning around $100,000 yearly. This is a generous income and, with experience, PCNPs can expect increases in wages.
2. Help improve your patient’s quality of life: Nothing causes as much of a disruption in a person's life as pain related to illness. As a palliative care nurse practitioner, you will have an active role in managing pain related to illness and disease, significantly improving their quality of life.
3. Develop relationships with patients and families: Unfortunately, the patient population that often requires palliative care are patients experiencing chronic, debilitating, and/or life-threatening illness, disease, or injury. After graduating from any one of the available palliative care nurse practitioner programs, palliative care NPs often work in jobs that allow them to develop relationships with their patients and families, such as hospice care or long-term care facilities. Nurses who work in palliative care have a better chance to develop closer relationships with patients and their families than nurses who work in more acute settings.
4. Get Certified in a Short Amount of Time: Palliative care nurse practitioner programs vary in length from one to two years. This means you can get complete the program and register for the certification exam in a short amount of time and begin providing care as a PCNP.
5. Job Security: The aging population and an increased need for quality healthcare is just one reason PCNPs can expect long-term security. As healthcare providers and educators become more aware of the positive impact that palliative care has on the quality of life of patients, there is a stronger push for more positions to be created, as well.


How Long Are Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Programs?


Palliative care nurse practitioner programs vary in length from one school to another. Many schools offer students the choice of becoming certified as a Primary Palliative Care NP or a Specialty Palliative Care NP. Primary palliative care nurse practitioners are educated to integrate palliative care skills and concepts into all nurse practitioner practice. Specialty palliative care nurse practitioner programs, on the other hand, are designed for nurse practitioners who wish to practice as palliative care specialists.

NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing offers specialty certification as a Primary Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner or a Specialty Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner. Both programs are designed to be completed on a part-time basis over fifteen months.
Students enrolled in the post-master's palliative care nurse practitioner program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing must enroll in two primary courses: Principles of Palliative Care and Evidence-Based Approach to Managing Symptoms in Advanced Illness, as well as one elective. The program can be completed in as few as two semesters.
Duke University School of Nursing allows students in its nurse practitioner program to integrate three palliative care courses into their major. To earn the palliative care certificate of completion, students must earn eight credit hours that are palliative care-specific and one hundred sixty-hours of clinical hours dedicated to palliative care.
The University of South Alabama offers palliative care study options that can be added to the MSN or DNP programs. If prospective students have already obtained an MSN or DNP degree, they can enroll in a post-graduate certificate with a palliative care specialization. The post-graduate palliative care nurse practitioner program specialty can be completed in twelve to fifteen months, depending on the student’s clinical schedule.


How Much Do Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?


One of the most important things that adult learners report is a determining factor for them choosing whether to enroll in a new college program is the cost. As with any college program, palliative care nurse practitioner programs vary in cost. Certificate programs cost less than graduate or postgraduate programs. The average cost of college or university nurse practitioner programs, overall, ranges from $6,000 to over $40,000, depending on the program you choose.

Fellowships, on the other hand, are different. Palliative care nurse practitioner fellowships offer graduate students the opportunity to earn an income while completing the residency or clinical portion of their chosen program. Nurse practitioner fellowships typically last twelve months or less. However, there may be some occasions when the program is longer or extended.

• The Advanced Palliative Care subspecialty offered to nurse practitioners at the University of Alabama at Birmingham consists of six credit hours of coursework. The program includes a per-course educational support and technology fee, books and supplies, background check, student hospitalization insurance fee, and course fees. The average cost for a student to complete this program is $6,434.
• The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has two options to prepare healthcare professionals as Palliative Care Community Specialists, the Interprofessional Palliative Care Certificate and the Master of Science in Palliative Care degree. The certificate program consists of twelve credit hours, and the Master of Science in Palliative Care consists of thirty-six credit hours. Tuition is based on a per credit hour rate. Colorado residents and Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) approved students pay $690 per credit hour, and non-residents or non-WRGP approved students pay $1,009 per credit hour. The total cost of these programs is reflected in the table below.

Program In-State and WRGP Approved Students Out-of-State and non-WRGP Approved Students
Interprofessional Palliative Care Certificate Program $8,280 $12,108
Master of Science in Palliative Care $24,840 $36,324


What Is the Curriculum Like in A Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Program?


Although there are some differences in the curriculum for Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner programs, they share some similarities, as well. These programs focus on comfort measures and improving quality of life.

These are a few examples of courses that are taken in the palliative care nurse practitioner programs from this article.

University of Illinois: The Advanced Practice Palliative Care Nursing Certificate at UI is offered exclusively online. Applicants must possess a minimum Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to apply for the certificate. The credential is earned by completing three credit hours in each of the following.

◦ Dying, Loss, and Grief
◦ Palliative Management of Pain and Common Symptoms
◦ Sociocultural and Ethical Issues in Palliative Care

University of Michigan: The Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program in Hospice and Palliative Care at the University of Michigan is one of the most popular palliative care nurse practitioner fellowship programs we’ve found. It is designed to meet a 12-month completion format. The curriculum includes academic courses, clinical rotations, and scholarly /research projects. Coursework for the fellowship consists of educational domains, which include the subjects listed below.

◦ The Hospice and Palliative Care Approach to Dying
◦ Psychological and Spiritual Support
◦ Family-focused Bereavement Support
◦ Medical Co-morbidities and Complications with Life-Threatening Diseases

Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care: Harvard University offers the Harvard Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship Program, which prepares graduates to provide interdisciplinary, comprehensive care to seriously ill clients and their families. The year-long program involves academic coursework, listed below, weekly palliative care grand rounds, site-specific sessions, four fellowship retreats.

◦ Bereavement and Communication
◦ Hospice Care and the Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
◦ Psychosocial Domain
◦ Spirituality


What Are the Admission Requirements?


Admission requirements vary from one school to another. General admission requirements for palliative care nurse practitioner programs, however, are similar for most schools. Prospective palliative care NP students must typically meet the following criteria.

◦ Submit all official transcribes from every college previously attended
◦ Submit a resume or curriculum vitae
◦ Complete an easy or letter of intent
◦ Provide three professional references who have personal knowledge of the applicant’s nursing and academic leadership potential

Applicants who wish to enroll at the University of Washington and complete a Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care must work as a nurse, physician, social worker, chaplain, or other health care profession. The minimum degree requirement is a bachelor's degree in a health-related discipline. International students whose native language is not English must show proof of English proficiency. Additionally, official transcripts must reflect a 3.0-grade point average on a 4.0 scale for the last ninety quarter credits earned.
The Medical University of South Carolina offers a Post-MSN to DNP in Palliative Care degree that students can complete in five semesters. Post-master's applicants must submit evidence of current practice in an advanced practice scope where the DNP project can be implemented and national certification in an advanced practice specialty. Nurse practitioner applicants who did not graduate from MUSC must show proof of the number of supervised clinical hours completed in their graduate program.
Palliative care nurse practitioner fellowship programs, like the one offered at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science, provide excellent learning opportunities for students to specialize in palliative care. Admission to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science Nurse Practitioner Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship must be eligible to live and work in the United States and possess national board certification as a family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Applicants must submit official transcripts from any post-secondary schools attended, a current immunization record, and a preadmission health review. Additionally, all applicants must pass a criminal background check and drug test.



BELOW ARE A LIST OF THE 20 MOST POPULAR PALLIATIVE CARE NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS FOR 2021

(The following Certificates, Fellowships, and Residency Training Palliative Care Programs are ideal for individuals who aspire to become a Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner.)

1. NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing - New York, NY


Program Type: Certificate



2. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing - Philadelphia, PA


Program Type: Certificate



3. Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NC


Program Type: Certificate



4. University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL


Program Type: Advanced Practice



5. University of Illinois - Chicago, IL


Program Type: Advanced Practice



6. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI


Program Type: Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program in Hospice and Palliative Care



7. Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care - Boston, MA


Program Type: Palliative Care Fellowship



8. University of Washington - Seattle, WA


Program Type: Certificate



9. Medical University of South Carolina - Charleston, SC


Program Type: Post-MSN to DNP in Palliative Care



10. Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science - Rochester, MN


Program Type: Fellowship



11. University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL


Program Type: Post-MSN Subspecialty



12. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus - Aurora, CO


Program Type: Certificate



13. Central Connecticut State University - New Britain, CT


Program Type: MSN in Hospice and Palliative Care



14. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing - Philadelphia, PA


Program Type: Certificate



15. Pennsylvania State University - State College, PA


Program Type: Certificate



16. Atrium Health - Charlotte, NC


Program Type: Palliative Care Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Fellowship



17. Massachusetts General Hospital - Boston, MA


Program Type: Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship



18. Medstar Health - Columbia, MD


Program Type: MedStar Health/Washington Hospital Center Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship



19. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - New York, NY


Program Type: Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Care



20. Providence Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship - Anchorage, AK


Program Type: Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship




What Kinds of Career Opportunities Exist for Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners?


Graduates of palliative care nurse practitioner programs have a broad range of career opportunities. For instance, palliative care NPs may work in the following positions.

1. Hospice Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner: In this position, the PCNP will provide care to clients with a terminal diagnosis, typically with a six-month life expectancy, although some clients may live longer. They assess clients and determine care plans to manage pain and promote comfort to dying clients and provide education to both patients and their families about their diagnosis and treatment.
2. Administrator of Palliative Care Facilities: PCNPs who work as administrators in palliative care facilities coordinate the care of patients who require comfort measures and pain management on an outpatient basis. They also assign patient care to nursing and ancillary staff, supervise patient care, and prepare financial reports.
3. Nursing Instructor: Nurse practitioners often find great employment opportunities as members of nursing faculty at colleges and universities. While their advanced practice license and degree make them good candidates to teach most subjects, they are especially skilled at educating nursing students about palliative care.


Earning Potential for Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners


According to payscale.com, after graduating from any one of the available palliative care nurse practitioner programs, a PCNP typically earns an average yearly salary of $97,069. A PCNP may earn more if they have prior experience working with palliative care patients. The need for palliative care NPs in an area or cost-of-living may positively influence earnings, as well.

Per Hour$46.67
Per Month$8,090
Per Year$97,069
(Source: Payscale.Com)


Conclusion


If you have a heart for caring for people with severe, life-threatening, or terminal illnesses, becoming a palliative care nurse practitioner may be the career you have been looking for. In this article, we’ve discussed some popular palliative care nurse practitioner programs for 2021 and what you need to do to be admitted and complete their programs. Suppose you have found the information in this article helpful. In that case, I encourage you to take a closer look at this ever-growing field of nursing care and talk with colleges, universities, or organizations that offer a palliative care program or fellowship.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


Will completing a palliative care nurse practitioner program help enhance my nursing career?

Palliative care NP programs help practitioners develop essential skills necessary to improve the care and quality of life of patients who have chronic, life-threatening, or terminal illnesses. While you can provide quality care to patients without becoming a certified palliative care NP, it can help enhance your career.

What makes a person a good candidate for a palliative care nurse practitioner program?

Nurse practitioners who desire to focus their care on patients with long-term, chronic or terminal illnesses come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Being a palliative care NP means having the ability to sympathize with your clients and their families. It is easy to become overwhelmed when caring for clients who require palliative care. So, knowing how to care for yourself and stay mentally and emotionally strong is also a must. Most of all, dedication to your chosen field and the clients for whom you care makes a person a good candidate.

Is it possible to get financial aid if I enroll in a short certificate program to become a palliative care NP?

There are many avenues through which prospective students can get financial assistance to earn specialty certificates. Applying for federally backed grants or student loans by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a great option. Also, it is not uncommon to overlook the prospect of being employer-sponsored to earn a specialty certificate. Talk to your employer and ask if they offer tuition or program assistance for employees.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.





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