Palliative Care

Palliative Care Minor Students

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is an interprofessional specialty focused on symptom management, quality of life, and relief of distress for patients and their families. The focus of palliative care is on improving the quality of life for patients living with serious illness and their families. Research in multiple settings—including hospitals, intensive care units, clinics, nursing facilities, and home care—has demonstrated that palliative care improves management of pain and other symptoms, helps patients and families cope with serious illness, and ensures that treatment plans align with patient and family goals.

Why is Palliative Care Education Needed?

Palliative care is being adopted rapidly in both inpatient and outpatient settings. As a result, employers are increasingly expressing the need for trained palliative care professionals. UCSF and the UCSF School of Nursing are dedicated to developing and implementing educational programs to expand the palliative care workforce.

What Programs are Available?

  • Palliative Care Minor: This program is for nurses enrolled in the graduate degree programs at UCSF School of Nursing who want to acquire knowledge and skill in subspecialty of palliative care. The minor includes 3 courses--an overview course (N203) , advanced communication course (N203A), and one additional course of the student’s choosing.  This minor is geared for nurses who care for seriously ill patients, either within a palliative care program or within another specialty or area, e.g. oncology, cardiology, primary care, etc.  Learn more

  • Interprofessional Continuing Education in Palliative Care: We developed this program to prepare working health professionals who care for seriously ill patients to gain the skills needed to provide high quality palliative care for their patients, and to serve as champions for palliative care in their workplace. Participants have also used this program to re-focus their career on palliative care. Currently this program is 10 months long and meets once a month on Fridays. Continuing education credits are provided. This program is open to nurses, physicians, chaplains, social workers, nursing assistants, case managers, therapists, pharmacists and other practicing clinicians. We will begin accepting applications in February 2018 for the 2018 - 2019 cohort. Learn more

Palliative Care Education - Leadership

Nurse Lead and Program Co-Director
DorAnne Donesky, PhD, ANP-BC, ACHPN
Associate Adjunct Professor
UCSF School of Nursing

[email protected]

Dr. Donesky's areas of expertise include quality of life for patients with advanced pulmonary disease and communication skills training. She is the Nurse Practitioner at the Mount Zion Pulmomary Quality of Life Clinic, a Cambia Sojourn Scholar, and a Macy Faculty Scholar.

Physician Lead and Program Co-Director
Wendy Anderson, MD, MS
Associate Professor
UCSF School of Medicine

[email protected]

Dr. Anderson leads a program of research, education, and quality improvement with the goal of improving care for seriously ill hospitalized patients. Her projects focus on palliative care in the hospital and ICU focused on interprofessional communication.

Social Work Lead
Bridget Sumser, LMSW
Clinical Social Worker
UCSF Adult Palliative Care Service

[email protected]

Bridget Sumser is a Clinical Social Worker for UCSF Adult Palliative Care Service. She completed Palliative Care Fellowship at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Her practice is rooted in a deep commitment to social justice issues in healthcare and focuses on whole person, family care.

Spiritual Care Lead
The Rev. Denah Joseph, BCC
Chaplain and Associate Director
UCSF Palliative Care Service

[email protected]

The Rev. Denah Joseph is an ordained Buddhist minister and serves as the palliative care chaplain at the Parnassus Heights campus, working with patients and families with advanced illness and end-of-life concerns. She has worked as a psychotherapist for many years.


Palliative Care Education - Advisory Council Members

Patricia M. Davidson, RN, MEd, PhD, FAAN
Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN
Director—Nursing Research & Education
Professor—City of Hope Medical Center, Duarte, California

Patricia O'Sullivan, EdD
Professor—UCSF School of Medicine
Director—Medical Education, Center for Faculty Educators

Steven Pantilat, MD
Director–UCSF Palliative Care Program
Leader–Continuity of Care for the Seriously Ill Strategic Planning Process for UCSF Health

Kathleen Puntillo, RN, PhD, FAAN
Professor Emeritus–UCSF School of Nursing
National Expert in palliative care

Michael Rabow, MD
Specialist—Hospice and Palliative Care
Internist—UCSF General Internal Medicine Clinic at Mount Zion

Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH
President–American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Medical Director of Clinical Programs–UCSF Office of Population Health

Palliative Care Education - Resources