Palliative Care Special Focus Area


Palliative care is an interprofessional specialty focused on symptom management, quality of life, and relief of distress for patients and their families. A key component of health care, palliative care is responsible for improving patient satisfaction and cost effectiveness of care, and is increasingly a key feature of our ability to provide continuity of care for patients with serious illness. Although end-of-life care is one component of palliative care, the approach is also appropriate for any patient who is coping with a serious illness that interferes with quality of life. Palliative care, with its focus on holistic, person-centered care and symptom management, complements disease-directed therapy. Palliative care has moved upstream from end-of-life care to address the quality of life and symptom management needs of patients living with serious illness and is being adopted rapidly in both inpatient and outpatient settings. As a result, employers are expressing the need for trained palliative care professionals.

The UC San Francisco School of Nursing Masters of Science Palliative Care Special Focus Area was designed to provide an introduction to the content related to palliative care. The core competencies of palliative care professionals extend beyond knowledge and technical competence to include advanced communication skills, moral reasoning and ethical judgment.


Students must complete three courses to fulfill requirements for the Palliative Care Special Focus Area. Tier 1 courses must be taken in order - N203 is taken Winter quarter of the 1st or 2nd year of study and N203A is taken Spring quarter of the first or second year, though must be taken after successful completion of N203. In addition, students are required to successfully complete one course from the Tier 2 Elective course menu before enrolling in N203A (see options below)

Tier 1: Students must complete both of these courses

  • N203 Palliative and End of Life Care Across the Continuum; Astrid Block, FOR,
    • Winter Quarter, Tuesdays, 1-3 p.m.  
  • N203A Advanced Communication in Palliative Care; Astrid Block, FOR
    • Spring Quarter, two Fridays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dates for 2020 TBD
    • Complete N203 and one elective course before enrolling in this course; can be taken first or second year  

Tier 2: Elective Courses (complete at least one)

  • Cl P 162: Pain and Palliative Care; Mark Holtsman, FOR
    • Fall Quarter, Tuesdays, 5-7 p.m. for six weeks from 10/1 to 11/5
  • N213A Common Problems in Older Adult Cancer Care; Carol Viele, Lynda Mackin, FORs
    • Fall Quarter, Tuesdays, 1:10 - 4 p.m. (Room S-168 for fall quarter 2019)
  • N283F Cultural and Ethical Issues in Pediatric Complex Care; Linda Stephan, FOR
    • Winter Quarter, day and time for 2020 in-person class TBD, plus online modules
  • Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC™) Online Courses:
    • Student may complete any combination of online courses from the categories below; must total at least 10 credits to fulfill PC special focus area Tier 2 course requirement.
      • Pain Management Curriculum (there are about 20 units available)
      • Symptom Management Curriculum (5 units available)
      • Best Practices in Dementia Care and Caregiver Support (3 units available)
    • Enrollment is free as UCSF is an intuitional member of CAPC™
    • Certificate(s) of Completion must be submitted to Palliative Care Coordinator no later than end of winter quarter preceding planned enrollment in N203A course (taken in spring quarter).
    • Instructions for accessing the CAPC courses
  • Other options may be negotiated with coordinator

Coordinator: Astrid Block