Patient- and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering throughout the continuum of illness or injury, through the provision of holistic person-centered care (physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual) to support autonomy through informed decision-making Palliative care includes care of the terminally ill, i.e., hospice care. 1

What is Primary Palliative Nursing?

“Primary palliative nursing includes the assessment and management of pain and other illness-related symptoms and treatment side effects; preparation of patients and families for what they might expect as the disease progresses; and assessment of how patient and family are coping with illness and injury, i.e., their hopes, concerns, and needs for support. Primary palliative nursing also incorporates the respectful care of those who are dying and support for their survivors.” 1

What is Specialty Palliative Nursing?

“Specialty palliative nursing includes both the registered nurse (RN) and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles and involves the management of complex and refractory symptoms, advanced skills in communication and conflict resolution, and navigating the changing care needs across the trajectory of life.

Specialty palliative care occurs in a variety of settings such as inpatient palliative care services, home and residential hospice programs, and disease-specific palliative care programs, such as oncology or heart failure supportive and palliative care services.

Specialty palliative nursing requires additional educational preparation, practice in a palliative care setting, and demonstration of identified competencies. Specialty practice competence is further demonstrated through the process of national certification in a specialty practice”1


1. American Nurses Association Professional Issues Panel. Call for Action: Nurses Lead and Transform Palliative Care. American Nurses Association. Published 2017. Accessed October 10, 2017.

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