What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized care for people with serious
and life-limiting illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief
from pain and non-pain symptoms, and supporting patients and family caregivers through
expert psycho-social-spiritual support to better manage the stress of a serious
illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both
the patient and the family caregiver. Palliative care is provided by a team of
nurses, physicians, physician assistants, social workers, spiritual care
providers, mental health providers, and other specialists who work together
with a patient to
provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any
stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.
Become a Palliative Care Community Specialist
The University of Colorado's Interprofessional Graduate Certificate and Master of Science in Palliative Care (MSPC) prepares
providers—physicians, nurses (including BSN and advanced
practice nurses), physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, spiritual
care providers, psychologists, therapists, counselors and ethicists — to be Palliative Care (PC) Community
Specialists. PC Community Specialists provide high quality palliative
consultation and care to patients and families in their own communities, giving
them the choice of treatment outside an academic tertiary medical center.
Additionally, PC Community Specialists, representing secondary palliative care,
are linked to tertiary care experts through this comprehensive educational
program. PC Community Specialists bridge a network of services to better
support the needs of patients and family caregivers across the continuum of
illness and care settings.
Palliative Care has been recognized as an important and
scarce resource in healthcare systems throughout the United States. The 2014
Institute of Medicine Report (IOM) “Dying in America,” documented that the care
provided for patients and families at the end of life fails to meet the need
for the “Delivery of Person-Centered, Family Oriented Care” and that patients
who received palliative care were more likely to have their preferences for
care honored with better pain and non-pain symptom control.
Theoretical Construct of Palliative Care Community Specialist
The concepts of primary, secondary, and tertiary palliative
care described below are defined by Dr. Charles von Gunten in an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (2002).
Primary Palliative Care: Basic palliative care skills and competencies that all providers should have (e.g., basic pain and non-pain symptom management strategies, goals of treatment discussions).
Secondary Palliative Care: Specialist clinicians and organizations that provide specialty care and consultation. The goal of the Masters of Science in Palliative Care would be to produce PC Community Specialists to meet the need for secondary palliative care provision (e.g., advanced symptoms, psycho-social-spiritual care, goals of care discussions and involvement in quality improvement activities related to palliative care).
Tertiary Palliative Care: Academic medical centers where specialist knowledge for the most complex cases is practiced, researched and taught. This is where board-certified and/or fellowship-trained specialists would provide palliative care for the most complex cases (e.g., complex/refractory symptoms, existential distress, complex goals of care discussions, conflict resolution, formal involvement in teaching, ongoing quality improvement and safety initiatives, and research to further the field of palliative care) the mission, governance and curriculum of [eligible] programs shall demonstrably emphasize public service values.