UCSF Interprofessional Continuing Education in Palliative Care

A Longitudinal Learning Experience for Practicing Clinicians

Overview | Applicants | Program Benefits | Format & Schedule | Cost | Application & Deadlines


Palliative care is an interprofessional specialty focused on symptom management, quality of life, and relief of distress for patients who are living with serious illness and their families. The UCSF Interprofessional Palliative Care Continuing Education Course was created in 2015 to address a workforce shortage that is a key limiting factor in the dissemination of palliative care.


Who Is This Program For?

This program was developed to meet the needs of working professionals from a range of disciplines and work settings across the greater Bay Area. We encourage all professionals to apply, including but not limited to nurses, advanced practice nurses, physicians, chaplains, community-based clergy, social workers, pharmacists, nursing aides, case managers, psychologists, therapists, family support coordinators, and interpreters.

Prior participants included professionals who:

  • Regularly work with seriously ill patients and want to improve their palliative skills
  • Want to develop or lead programs in palliative care
  • Champion palliative care in their institutions
  • Desire an in-depth introduction to the field
  • Plan to transition into the field of palliative care


Program Benefits

  • In-person interactive learning in a small interprofessional cohort
  • Expert interprofessional faculty, including nursing, physician, social work, and chaplain leads; all topics presented from biomedical, psychosocial, and spiritual perspectives
  • Comprehensive training in core palliative care domains: assessment, pain and symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual distress, ethics and advance care planning, prognostication, end of life and bereavement
  • In depth communication training, focusing on individual skills and communication as part of an interprofessional team
  • Mentorship from program faculty 
  • Continuing education credits


Format and Schedule

This program is designed as a longitudinal, small group experience over the course of an academic year. This format maximizes interaction between students and faculty and among students, and promotes students’ ability to integrate learnings into their clinical practice.

Sessions occur all day (9 AM - 5 PM) once per month on Fridays at the UCSF Parnassus Campus between September and June.

Sessions for 2017 - 2018 Cohort

September 15, 2017

January 12, 2018

April 6, 2018

October 27, 2017

February 2, 2018

May 4, 2018

November 17, 2017

March 2, 2018

June 1, 2018

2017 - 2018 Program Cost:  $4,500

Interested applicants are encouraged to work with their institutions to support their participation. To facilitate participation from clinicians from a wide range of professions, backgrounds, and practice settings, the portion of the program that applicants self-pay is based on the following sliding scale according to self-reported income.  If tuition is a financial burden, please inquire here. 

Program fee includes all sessions and continuing education credits.


Application Process and Deadlines

  • We can accommodate up to 30 participants for the 2018 - 2019 cohort
  • All health professionals who wish to gain additional training in palliative care are invited to apply.  No prior training in palliative care is required, but applicants should have completed the initial degree and/or certification for their profession.  
  • Applicants will be selected based on commitment to the field and planned impact, and to yield a cohort with participants from a range of dprofessions, work locations, and backgrounds.
  • Applications will open February 2018
  • Please contact Perri Ling for more information

Timeline for 2018 - 2019 Cohort

March 2018 - Application deadline

April 2018 - Notification of acceptance

2015 - 2016 Continuing Education Graduates

graduates of Palliative Care CME pose on stairwell



"I am grateful to the Interprofessional Palliative Care Educational program at UCSF because this program has helped establish a broad understanding of what palliative care is and has provided tools and resources for effective communication."

-Bernie Roe, Nurse Practitioner Washington Hospital, Fremont, CA, Cohort 1-


"I'm so grateful for all you're bringing together, for the possibilities you're exploring and opening, to be part of transforming healthcare with Palliative Care."

-Pegi Walker, Chaplain UCSF Medical Center San Francisco, CA, Cohort 2-


The University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF) is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. CME Credit will be available.


Perri Ling
(415) 502-2046


Program Leaders

Curriculum development faculty represent the four core professions of Palliatve Care.

Program Director & Nurse Lead

Headshot of DorAnne Donesky

DorAnne Donesky, PhD, ANP-BC, ACHPN
Associate Adjunct Professor
UCSF School of Nursing


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

Headshot of Wendy Anderson

Wendy Anderson, MD, MS
Associate Professor
UCSF School of Medicine


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

Headshot of Bridget Sumser

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


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

Headshot of Denah Joseph

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


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 also maintains a psychotherapy practice specializing in the psychological and spiritual dimensions of the illness experience.