The Science of Caring
The first of its kind in the country, UIC’s
patient-centered, family focused coursework in end-of-life
care prepares health
professionals to help patients of all ages and their families
to face the challenges that come with an end-of-life transition.
The Advanced Practice Palliative Care Nurse Certificate Program
(APPCN) at the College of Nursing is a life-span oriented specialty
certificate program that prepares advanced practice nurses in
the science and practice of end-of-life and palliative care in
order to serve neonates, children, adults, and the elderly in
rural and medically underserved areas.
According to Dr. Jeannine Forrest, project director and research
assistant professor, “The American healthcare system often
fails to provide sustaining care to people who are facing their
own death or the death of a family member. Patients of all ages
and their families need advanced, competent help in navigating
the myriad of physical, psychosocial, spiritual and economic
challenges of serious illness, along with support in making complex
and difficult ethical decisions consistent with preferences for
“It’s the part that’s always missed,” added
Melissa Hernandez, project coordinator for the Palliative Care
Program. “It’s the psychosocial, humanistic way of
treating a patient.”
Nationally, only two other programs offer education in palliative
care for advanced practice nurses. The program at UIC is the
only one to encompass care of patients of all ages, and the only
program in the Midwest.
Currently, the program offers three courses – in the areas
of pain and symptom management, death and dying, and ethics and
culture – which are open to individuals in the UIC College
of Nursing Master’s Program, or in a master’s program
outside UIC. The program prepares students to sit for the exam
administered through the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
(HPNA) to become credentialed in palliative care.
Graduates of the program are particularly well-versed in the
legal, ethical, and socio-political issues related to our nation’s
top causes of morbidity and mortality (i.e., cancer, heart disease,
stroke, congenital disorders, chronic childhood problems, and
neurologic and psychiatric conditions).
The program is made possible with an $800,000 grant from the
Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services.
The palliative care certification program is also dedicated
to forming community partnerships to serve the health care professionals
and patients of underserved areas. One of the program’s
first community partners, El Valor, is a non-profit organization
in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. El Valor’s mission
of working with children and families with disabilities and encouraging
leadership in higher education has been an excellent way to increase
palliative care awareness and the recruitment of Latino students.