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Palliative care chaplaincy certificate course launches

28 February 2013

HealthCare Chaplaincy and The California State University Institute for Palliative Care – two leaders in their fields – have joined forces to create a new online certificate course to support chaplains and other spiritual care providers with the delivery of palliative care to patients and their families in hospitals, hospices, long-term care facilities, and elsewhere.

Created by a team of national experts, the nine-week curriculum strengthens the quality of palliative care by providing a foundation of knowledge and practice built on the applicable areas of the National Consensus Project’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care and the National Quality Forum’s National Framework and Preferred Practices for Palliative and Hospice Care Quality.

This course will be valuable to any chaplain who wants to increase their skill and expertise in the field of palliative care regardless of what setting they serve in.  It will also provide in-depth continuing education for other health professionals interested in the integration of spirituality in the care of palliative patients.  Additionally, the course will assist Board Certified Chaplains desiring to work towards meeting the competencies required for speciality certification by their professional association.

The course is designed also for other health care professionals who want to gain expertise in the importance of spirituality in palliative care.

All who successfully complete the course will receive a joint certificate of completion from HealthCare Chaplaincy and the California State University Institute for Palliative Care, which is offering the program through its award-winning online learning system.

“This online certificate program is an exciting and important move forward in the field of palliative care,” says Michael W. Rabow, MD, director, symptom management service and professor of clinical medicine at University of California, San Francisco. 

The Rev. Dr. David C. Johnson BCC, president-elect of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and past president of the Association of Professional Chaplains, says, “The field of professional chaplaincy has lagged in the distance-learning field for some time.  This program with its online platform is a huge leap forward for our profession.”  

“The training I gained from the course’s pilot program has proven invaluable as our palliative care program is seeking Joint Commission certification,” says Libby Caes, M.Div., BCC, oncology and palliative care chaplain at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, Wisconsin. 

The curriculum is based on interactive, text-based modules that are faculty-led and collaborative. Modules and authors are:

  • “History and Philosophy of Palliative Care” by Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor and research scientist at the City of Hope National Medical Center
  • “Spiritual, Existential and Emotional Issues” by Christina Puchalski, MD, director of GWish, professor in the departments of Medicine and Health Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine and Gary E. Myers, MDiv, PhD, deputy director, continuing and professional studies at HealthCare Chaplaincy
  • “Family Systems and Group Facilitation” by Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, LCSW, ACSW, OSW-C, senior research specialist, Division of Nursing Research and Education, Department of Population Sciences, City of Hope National Medical Center 
  • “Ethics and Common Palliative Care Issues” by Nancy Berlinger, MDiv, PhD, deputy director & research scholar, The Hastings Center
  • “Social and Cultural Influences on Palliative Care” by the Rev. Sue Wintz, BCC, HealthCare Chaplaincy 
  • consultant for chaplaincy care practice and managing editor PlainViews®, past president of Association of Professional Chaplains
  • “Chaplain Leadership as Mentorship” by the Rev. George Handzo, BCC, HealthCare Chaplaincy senior consultant for chaplaincy care leadership and practice, past president of Association of Professional Chaplains            
  • “Ethical/Critical Reasoning Using Cases” by Gary E. Myers, MDiv, PhD, deputy director, continuing and professional studies at HealthCare Chaplaincy and Rabbi Nathan Goldberg, BCC, HealthCare Chaplaincy, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education certified supervisor, Columbia University doctoral student in adult education
  • “Professional Wellness While Working in Palliative Care” by Martha Rutland, D. Min., BCC, ACPE, director of Clinical Pastoral Education, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, director of CPE at VITAS 
  • "Palliative Care: Science  and Religion Together Again” by Linda Emmanuel, MD, PhD, Linda L. Emanuel, MD, PhD, HealthCare Chaplaincy, senior vice president for research & education, director, Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society – Institute for Public Health and Medicine Northwestern University.

Coordinators for this new program are:

  • Helen McNeal, BBA, executive director of the California State University Institute for Palliative Care.  She previously was the vice president responsible for The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice, overseeing all professional education and research programs.
  • Gary E. Myers, MDiv, PhD, deputy director, continuing and professional studies at HealthCare Chaplaincy. Dr. Myers, who is the course’s teaching faculty, is a member of the adjunct faculty at Drew Theological School and the former executive director of the Grace Counseling Center.

The first course offering, limited to 30 people, will commence in March 2013 and will run for nine weeks. Course registration and schedule can be found on the website of The California State University Institute for Palliative Care. The course fee is $799.

About HealthCare Chaplaincy & the California State University Institute for Palliative Care

HealthCare Chaplaincy in New York is the leading national multifaith organization for the integration of spiritual care within health care and palliative care through scientific research, professional education and clinical practice. It provides professional chaplaincy services—one of the most cost-effective resources to increase patient, family, and staff satisfaction—in major metro New York hospitals and long-term care facilities. Since 1961 it has helped close to 6 million patients, loved ones and hospital staff find meaning and comfort – whatever their beliefs, values or culture. It is developing the National Center for Palliative Care Innovation, including an enhanced assisted living residence. 

The California State University Institute for Palliative Care is the first statewide educational and workforce development initiative focused on palliative care. Founded by the largest higher-education system in the U.S., the Institute is addressing the growing need for professionals who can help individuals and families managing serious and chronic illnesses achieve quality of life along with quality of care. The Institute is leveraging the CSU’s renowned faculty expertise, its interdisciplinary curriculum, and its role as one of the largest producers of health care graduates in California to develop the palliative care workforce needed for today and tomorrow.



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