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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Professional Development

Palliative Care Certificate

Palliative Care Certificate

Advancing End-of-Life Care Beyond Hospice

Become a key contributor to improved quality of life and outcomes for patients and families by enhancing your knowledge of concepts and evidence-based interventions for complex symptom management.


The nurses’ role in chronic illness and end-of-life care is well-established and will continue to expand in the context of national endeavors to reform the U.S. healthcare system. Articles in both the Journal for Hospice and Palliative Nursing and the Journal of Palliative Medicine confirm the pressing need for continued education in palliative care.

A certificate in palliative care from the University of Colorado College of Nursing will create opportunities for career advancement, regardless of your practice setting – hospital or ambulatory, rural or urban.

Palliative care is an approach which improves quality of life for patients and their families facing (chronic and/or) life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems: physical, psychosocial and spiritual (adapted, World Health Organization, 2006).

Course Information

Certificate Courses

(Both courses are required to complete the certificate)

NURS 6744: Advanced Concepts in Palliative Care (3 credits)

Five-day intensive course in classroom setting on the Anschutz Medical Campus followed by four weeks of online discussion.

An advanced theory course focusing on knowledge acquisition in palliative care nursing. Course objectives and topic outline.

NURS 6745: Complex Symptom Management in Palliative Care (3 credits)

Online course

An advanced theory course focusing on complex symptom management in palliative care. Course objectives and topic outline.

Course Tuition/Fees

Tuition and fees for BOTH courses in the Palliative Care Certificate Program (graduate-level academic credit) total less than $4,000. See the registration form for current tuition and fee rates. Coursework may qualify for tuition reimbursement from your employer, so registrants are encouraged to investigate this option. Many employers offer reimbursement for course work leading to certification.


Please read the course enrollment information carefully. Enrollment Information.

If you are interested in registering for this certificate program:

  • Visit the Nondegree Programs webpage and submit a Nondegree Enrollment Request Form.
  • Obtain written permission (email ok) from Dr. Paula Nelson-Marten (for NURS6744 only)
  • Unique features of the College of Nursing’s certificate program:

    • Provides a foundation in current palliative care theory and practice models
    • Allows participants to discuss concepts, palliative care assessment, and planning in the context of patient scenarios to broaden approaches to model implementation
    • Addresses complex symptom management including physical/pain, psychosocial, and spiritual interventions
    • Utilizes evidence-based palliative care practices while incorporating ethical and moral considerations into the course work
    • Reviews palliative care theory in preparation for the Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN) certification exam offered by the National board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses. (See for complete criteria, including the number of clinical hours required to sit for the exam).


    Program faculty have had interdisciplinary experience in various aspects of hospice and/or palliative care. Their areas of current practice include palliative care and hospice nursing, pain management, health care related technology, and cancer nursing education.

    Paula Nelson Marten, RN, PhD, AOCN, an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, has been involved in oncology nursing and end-of-life care since 1982.  Her active interest in Palliative Care was confirmed through her participation as a Co-Pl with Doctors Paul Seligman and Regina Fink in two NCI/NIH grants for palliative care education (from 1994-2000) and again as a Roxane Scholar at the Northwestern Medical School Palliative Care Program in 1996. Currently she is the Coordinator for the Master's Program Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Option.  Paula is a member of the Program in Palliative Care Research Core Team, General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado, School of Medicine. 

    Nancy K. English, RN, PhD, APN, CHPN, was a nurse coordinator for a pediatric palliative care initiative from 2001 to 2011, and initiated a perinatal palliative care service at the Colorado Children's Hospital. She specializes in teaching nurses how to incorporate sacred and spiritual care into their practice.

    Ellyn Matthews, RN, PhD, AOCNS, an associate professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, is an advanced oncology certified nurse specialist (AOCNS) with a focus on the symptom experience across the cancer trajectory. Areas of interest include pain, psychosocial distress, and symptom management in cancer populations. Current research involves testing behavioral interventions for chronic insomnia after breast cancer treatment. Dr. Matthews is also exploring sleep disturbances in other cancer populations including melanoma and mothers of children with leukemia using both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

    Regina Fink, RN, PhD, AOCN, FAAN, is a research nurse scientist in at the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH), where she consults with nurses and other health care professionals on evidence-based practice and research projects. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, College of Nursing. A national and international lecturer on pain, palliative care, and EBP with multiple publications, she has focused her 35 year career on caring for persons with cancer and pain. She has developed a pain assessment guide, equianalgesic reference card, and pain assessment DVD that has been distributed nationally to hospitals and other health facilities including hospices and home care agency staff. One of her many publications includes a practical handbook for oncology nurses, "Oncology Nursing Secrets". Previous research includes being a co-investigator on an NIH grant on Palliative Care, where she integrated palliative care and pain management content into the curricula of nursing and medical schools. She was a co-investigator on an AHRQ grant, Improving Pain Management in Nursing Homes, where she was responsible for developing and implementing the educational and behavioral interventions in 12 Colorado nursing homes. She conducted a palliative care needs assessment of rural Rocky Mountain hospitals. She was a co-investigator on an AHRQ grant providing web-based education on EBP for rural hospital nurses, and has collaborated on research related to CA-UTI, heart failure, and pain perceptions at the end-of-life. Currently she is a co-investigator on an American Cancer Society Funded grant, “Apoyo con Carino: Patient Navigation to Improve Palliative Care for Latinos with Advanced Cancer.” Regina is an advanced oncology certified nurse and a past recipient of the Colorado Florence Nightingale Award.

    Original Grant Members

    This project was funded through a grant from the National Cancer Institute, October 2001 to August 2004. Members who have left the project include Dr. Suzanne Howell who served as the project evaluator and whose expertise is in pain management and Dr. Maureen Pangle who currently is a director of nursing at St. John's Hospice in Denver.

    Project Consultants

    The following were project consultants for the original National Cancer Institute grant (2001-05):

    Colleen Scanlon, RN, MS, JD. The project faculty selected Colleen Scanlon as their consultant because of her expertise and practice in end-of-life care ethics.

    David Weissman, MD, FAAHPM. Dr. Weissman is a consultant in palliative medicine. He is a pioneer in palliative care medicine and has done extensive work in role modeling with physicians, students, and institutions to promote change in improving end-of-life care. David’s mind set and practice was in keeping with the goals of the grant.

    Contact Us

    Mailing Address:

    Palliative Care Beyond Hospice
    c/o Professional Development
    University of Colorado
    College of Nursing C288-08
    Education 2 North
    13120 East 19th Avenue
    Aurora, Colorado 80045
    Phone: 303-724-1372
    FAX: 303-724-4729

    Program Directory

    Stephanie Aguinaldo, BALA
    Registration Contact

    Paula Nelson-Marten, RN, PhD, AOCN
    Director, Palliative Care Program

    Nancy English, RN, PhD, ANP, CHPN 
    Program Faculty