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Courses and Requirements

Learning Outcomes

  1. Communication Skills

    The PC Community Specialist demonstrates expertise in relationship centered communication theory and skills to gather and share information, negotiate shared decision making and plans of care, and sustain relationships with palliative care patients/families and healthcare providers.

  2. Expert Symptom Management Skills (Pain and Non-pain)

    The PC Community Specialist demonstrates expert clinical judgment in performing a comprehensive patient assessment, leading to diagnosis development, implementation, and ongoing reassessment with modification of effective, evidence-based care plans utilizing the skills and expertise of the interdisciplinary team (IDT), for all distressing pain and non-pain symptoms experienced by patients with any serious illness.

  3. Ethics, Advocacy, and Legal Aspects of Care

    The PC Community Specialist incorporates knowledge of ethical and legal aspects of palliative care into practice by exhibiting the highest professional standards and by advocating for the rights of patients/families to access optimal palliative care.

  4. Spiritual, Religious and Existential Aspects of Care

    As part of the IDT, the PC Community Specialist demonstrates and promotes spiritually sensitive care, respecting diversity in all forms, for patients/families and other health care professionals.

  5. Social and Cultural Aspects of Care

    As part of the IDT, the PC Community Specialist demonstrates respect for diverse communities through culturally sensitive skills, recognizing how social and economic barriers and challenges impact the delivery of health care services.

  6. Psychological Aspects of Care

    As part of the IDT, the PC Community Specialist effectively addresses psychological concerns, and promotes access to expanded resources for all patients/families living with any serious illness.

  7. Integration of Palliative Care for patients throughout the course of any serious illness in all venues

    The PC Community Specialist effectively advocates to provide evidence-based palliative care for patients/families and supports and develops expanded resources for all patients/families living with any serious illness.

  8. Effective Palliative Care Educator

    The PC Community Specialist demonstrates knowledge, skills, and applies adult learning principles when providing palliative care education to patients, families, healthcare professionals, and the community.

  9. Systems Thinking

    The PC Community Specialist demonstrates understanding of the healthcare system to effectively manage and utilize resources to support patients/families living with any serious illness and advocates for the reform of healthcare systems to provide optimal palliative care.

Courses

To fulfill the requirements for a Master of Science in Palliative Care, students must successfully complete 36 credit hours over a minimum of 2 years but not to exceed 7 years (although students may choose a pace that fits their lifestyle). Students seeking the Interprofessional Graduate Certificate will complete the first 12 credit hours.

Year One: 15 credit hours
Fall
Hybrid (Online Instruction and 1 On-Campus Weekend Intensive)
Core Concepts, Principles, & Communication Skills
Basic Pain Assessment & Management: IDT Care
6 credit hours
Spring
Online Instruction
IDT Care for Non-pain Symptoms: Part A
IDT Care for Non-pain Symptoms: Part B
6 credit hours
Summer
Hybrid (Online and 1 On Campus Weekend Intensive)
Communication Skill Refinement: IDT Collaboration
3 credit hours
Year Two: 18 credit hours
Fall
Online Instruction
Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Part A
Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Part B
6 credit hours
Spring
Online Instruction
Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Part C
Advanced Concepts in Pain Management
6 credit hours
Summer
Hybrid Intensive (Online and 1 On-Campus Weekend Intensive)
Palliative Care Integrated in Your Community
Capstone
6 credit hours
Capstone Preparation: 3 credit hours
Throughout Program
Online Instruction
Capstone Project Preparation: Overview
Capstone Project Preparation: Literature Review
Capstone Project Preparation: Proposal
3 credit hours

Description of Courses

 Fall Semester I

PALC 6511 - Core Concepts, Principles, & Communication Skills: Online (2 credit hours)

This 6-week online course covers palliative care models, whole person assessment, self-awareness for the palliative care community specialist, the impact of illness and suffering on the individual, communication skill development, goals of care, and ethics.

PALC 6512 - Core Concepts, Principles, & Communication Skills: Intensive (1 credit hours)

This hybrid course includes online course work completed before and after on-campus instruction that takes place over a long weekend (Thursday- Sunday) in September of each year. Students meet with faculty, complete communications training with simulated patients and family caregivers, and participate in group work that complements online content.

PALC 6110/6111* - Basic Pain Assessment & Management: IDT Care (3 credit hours)

This course reviews basic pain pathophysiology, assessment, non‐pharmacological interventions, and non‐opioid and opioid pharmacological pain management. Biomedical content is integrated with psychological, social, spiritual, and ethical concerns related to pain. ​

1

 Spring Semester I

PALC 6210/6211* - IDT Care for Non-pain Symptoms: Part A (3 credit hours)

This course covers the assessment and management of common non‐pain symptoms, including anorexia, asthenia, constipation and nausea/vomiting. Biomedical content is integrated with content addressing psychological, social, spiritual, and ethical concerns related to non-pain symptoms.

PALC 6220/6221* - IDT Care for Non-pain Symptoms: Part B (3 credit hours)

This course covers the assessment and management of common non‐pain symptoms, including dyspnea, coughing, and insomnia. Biomedical content is integrated with content addressing psychological, social, spiritual, and ethical concerns related to non-pain symptoms.

Certificate students will receive certificate upon successful completion of this semester.​​​​​

2

 Summer Semester I

PALC 6521 - Communication Skill Refinement: IDT Collaboration: Online (2 credit hours)

This online course addresses advanced topics in palliative care, including leadership development business development, resilience for the PCCS, and advanced PC communication skills.

PALC 6522 - Communication Skill Refinement: IDT Collaboration: Intensive (1 credit hours)

This hybrid course includes pre- and post-work related to the on-campus intensive learning experiences that expand on and reinforce content in PALC 6521. Students will practice advanced communications skill with simulated patients and caregivers, and participate in group work that complements online content.​

3

 Fall Semester II

PALC 6310 - Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Part A (3 credit hours)

This course covers assessment and management of chronic illnesses (cardiopulmonary, end stage liver and renal diseases) with emphasis on early PC combined with disease-focused therapy. Attention is given to prognostication and transition into palliative/hospice care or discontinuing treatments with bioethical review and IDT support. Students also engage related psycho-social-spiritual-ethics content.

PALC 6320 - Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Part B (3 credit hours)

This course covers the assessment and management of cancer and HIV with emphasis on early palliative care and disease-focused therapy. Attention is given to prognostication and transition into palliative/hospice care or discontinuing treatments with bioethical review and IDT support. Students also engage related psycho-social-spiritual-ethics content.​

4

 Spring Semester II

PALC 6330 - Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Part C (3 credit hours)

This course includes assessment and management of neurodegenerative disorders with emphasis on early palliative care and disease-focused therapy. Attention to prognostication and transitions into palliative/hospice care are paired with bioethical review and comfort care for the imminently dying. Students also engage related psycho-social-spiritual-ethics content.

PALC 6120 - Advanced Concepts in Pain Management (3 credit hours)

This course focuses on methadone, opioid infusions, interventional pain management, and other complex modalities. This course also focuses on ethics (e.g., Medical Aid in Dying) and psychosocial issues, including pain in the face of addiction and public policy around opioids and REMS. Students engage related psycho-social-spiritual-ethics content.​

5

 Summer Semester II

PALC 6531 - Palliative Care Integrated in Your Community - Bringing it all Together: On Becoming a Palliative Care Community Specialist: Online (2 credit hours)

This online course focuses on advanced communication training, resilience for the PCCS, professional presentations, media relations, and development of professional identity as a palliative care community specialist.

PALC 6532 - Palliative Care Integrated in Your Community - Bringing it all Together: On Becoming a Palliative Care Community Specialist (1 credit hour)

This hybrid course includes pre- and post-work related to the on-campus intensive learning experiences that expand on and reinforce content in PALC 6531. Students will practice advanced communication skill with simulated patients and caregivers, and participate in group work that complements online content.

6

 Capstone Preparation

PALC 6911 - Systems-Level Thinking: Capstone Overview (1 credit hour)

Students will identify a PC topic of interest. They will explore Capstone project types: evidence-based practice, quality improvement/patient safety, program development/evaluation, ethics, humanities, needs assessment, and research. They will formulate a problem statement, purpose and aims/objectives for their Capstone project.

PALC 6912 - Capstone Project Preparation: Literature Review (1 credit hour)

Students will refine their problem statement, purpose statement and aims/objectives. They will conduct a literature search, critique journal articles, create an evidence table, and synthesize a literature review in preparation for writing their Capstone Proposal.

PALC 6913 - Capstone Project Preparation: Proposal (1 credit hour)

Students will draft a Capstone proposal for faculty review and feedback. They will present their Capstone Proposal to a Bridge Committee for approval prior to implementation.

​​​​​​​​7


* denotes interprofessional course with content specific for Biomedical Track (6110, 6210 and 6220) or Allied Health Professional Track (6111, 6211 and 6221).

Requirements

MSPC Program Computer Requirement

The program highly recommends that each student have a laptop computer with the following specifications:

Critical:

  • 64-bit quad core CPU
  • OpenGL-compatible graphics card (with at least 1 GB RAM)
  • SSD drive (solid state drives are much faster than ordinary drives, but hold less data)
  • Assess to reliable high speed internet
  • Camera, speaker and microphone for participation in on-line seminars
Computer Operating Systems and Internet Browsers

Didactic coursework is managed through the Canvas program connected to CU Online. Canvas is designed to work on either PC or Mac computers and supports Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

Software

Microsoft Office® software version 2003 or later is required, including Microsoft Word® and PowerPoint®. Many of the courses use slide shows developed using PowerPoint. Having the full program makes it possible to modify slides to black and white for printing, to reformat the slides as note pages or handout formats, and to make other helpful modifications. Students will be required to prepare PowerPoint slides in at least one course. Microsoft Office software is available at discounted rates through the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Bookstore as either the standard or professional version. Other software in the Microsoft Office package is not required.

Adobe Acrobat® is required to read and print some of the handouts and papers students receive as PDF files. A free downloadable version is available on Adobe's web site. Many audio lectures for courses are provided in MP3 format, which allows lectures to be played with a variety of software including: Windows Media Player®, Quicktime®, iTunes® or Real Player®. All of these are available free on the Internet. The free versions of these programs are sufficient for the audio files; you do not need to purchase a media player.

Internet Access

High-speed access, such as cable or DSL, is not absolutely required but highly recommended. Students will download many large files from the Internet to the computer and listen to many audio lectures. If high-speed access is not available, students should consider installing a second phone line for dedicated computer use.

Attendance to the program is dependent on internet access. Because the online course work is available wherever there is Internet access, it is usually possible to accomplish coursework, even when away from home.

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