Palliative Care 2 Complex Symptom Management

This 6-week online course focuses on complex symptom management for clients with progressive disease. Participants will review health assessment including appropriate use of screening and diagnostics tools to gather information about clinical symptoms and disease progression. They will explore the etiology and mechanisms of specific symptoms experienced by clients with serious illnesses. Apply clinical decision making to formulate a plan of care for symptoms including appropriate pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention. As well as develop plans to support clients and caregivers, to educate and empower them in managing symptoms. Participants will also explore complex planning & intervention for multiple coexisting symptoms, and symptoms crisis situations. The course will utilize a series of case scenarios to enhance learning and application.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Articulate appropriate application of common assessment & screening tools, approaches and resources used to gather information about clinical symptoms and disease progression for adult clients living with a progressive and life-limiting illness.
  • Discuss the impact of symptoms on a client’s lived experience, and importance of appropriate symptom management along the entire progressive and life-limiting illness disease trajectory.
  • For each of the common symptoms experienced by clients living with a progressive and life-limiting illness:
    1. Identify common symptom presentations & concerns.
    2. Describe pathophysiology & etiology of symptoms.
    3. Discuss holistic symptom assessment including disease/symptom specific tools & diagnostics.
    4. Describe pharmacological and non-pharmacological symptom management.
    5. Describe ongoing monitoring & adjustments to plan of care (e.g. symptom progression, crisis, undesirable side effects).
  • Apply clinical decision making to develop a plan of care that is consistent with client’s goals & wishes.
  • Educate client’s and their families on symptom management strategies that support self-care.
  • Apply symptom management approaches, tools & strategies to own practice environment/population.

Certificate Criteria

This is the second of three online courses as part of the Certificate in Palliative Care for Nurse Practitioners: Core Competencies for NP Practice. Participants successfully completing all three courses within a two-year period will receive the continuing education certificate.


The certificate is for Nurse Practitioners, (and/or Nurse Practitioner Program students), and those in Advanced Practice and/or CNS roles who, as part of their routine practice, may be responsible for the care of adult clients with progressive and life-limiting illnesses. The practice setting may include acute care, long-term care, community, primary care or private practice.

Course participants must hold current registration as a Nurse Practitioner in their province (or as a Registered Nurse enrolled in a Nurse Practitioner program; or working in an Advanced Practice Role)

Registration Now Open

Registration closes January 22nd, 2024

Course Outline

This is a 6-week online course delivered through the University of Toronto’s learning management system. It is estimated that up to 6 hours of study per week is required for successful completion. In each of the 6 weeks of the course participants are expected to view a one-hour e-learning module, review required readings, actively engage with the course material by responding to questions related to the readings, post completed learning activities in the Learning Portal, and contribute to the discussion board with fellow participants. Participants can progress through the course at their own pace each week, however the modules must be completed in order and there is a weekly short quiz; 5 discussion board learning activities, & 1 LIVE participation session, with specific due dates.  Online discussion activities provide opportunity for participants to learn from the varied experiences, roles and perspectives of other clinicians. One LIVE (via Zoom) session will take place for faculty & participants to engage a practice session to apply conversation tools (alternative option is also available for this activity).

Please note for this course the week runs from the Monday to the Sunday evening following.

TimeDescriptionEvaluative Components

Week 1

Overview/introduction to symptom management in palliative care

Focus on pain assessment & management

Quiz/Case Activity & Discussion Post

Week 2

Focus on dyspnea and cough assessment & management

Quiz/Case Activity & Discussion Post

Week 3

Focus on thrush, swallowing, dysphagia, nausea, and vomiting assessment & management

Quiz/Case Activity & Discussion Post

Week 4

Focus on constipation, anorexia, cachexia, and fatigue assessment & management

Quiz/Case Activity & Discussion Post

Week 5

Focus on delirium, dementia, depression, and anxiety assessment & management

Quiz/Case Activity & Discussion Post

Week 6

Focus on hopelessness, well being, and spiritual care assessment & management

Quiz/Case Activity & Discussion Post

Course Format

Delivery Mode

This online course is offered through the University of Toronto Learning Portal – QUERCUS. Each week, participants will be expected to view e-learning modules, review required readings and resources, and actively engage with learning activities that will focus on application of learning. Learning activities and assignments/examinations will provide opportunity to apply learnings and receive feedback. Participants can expect to allocate approximately 5 or more hours a week for completion of a module; and additional time for assignments.

Teaching Methods

Each week consists of a recorded lecture by expert clinician faculty. and who will be available for questions through discussion board during their module. Each module focuses on discussion of the appropriate health assessment, relevant differential diagnoses, pathophysiology, red flags, use of diagnostic tests and screening tools, selection of appropriate interventions and treatments, and indications for referral and/or consultation, and considerations in transitions in care/discharge. Additional clinical resources are provided such as clinical practice guidelines, relevant practice standards, and clinical tools for practice.


Cindy Shobbrook

Advanced Practice Education Consultant at The de Souza Institute; The Princess Margaret Hospital

Yvonne P. Rowe Samadhin

Nurse Practitioner Hospice Palliative Care, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network

Other Courses in this Certificate Program

Palliative Care 1: Approach to Care and Communication Skills

This 6-week online course is the foundational course in the certificate and focuses on the role of the nurse practitioner in applying a palliative approach to care within any practice […]

Palliative Care 3: End of Life Care Management

This 6-week online course focuses on end of life care for clients with progressive disease.   Participants will explore “what changes” with conversations and symptom assessment & management nearing end of […]

Registration Information

$715 + HST
$785 + HST
$670 + HST
$670 + HST
$670 + HST

Site Groups

A group discount rate is available for site groups of three or more people. For details please contact

Please Note

  • Refund Policy – To withdraw from a course, send a written request to by December 22, 2023. No refunds will be given after this date. All refunds are subject to an administrative fee of $100 + tax. Alternatively, a colleague may attend in your place. Please send your substitution request at least 3 days prior to the course to
  • Registration deadline: January 22, 2024.
  • U of T Nursing Alumni discount is available to participants who hold a BScN, MN, PMNP Diploma, MScN or PhD from the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.
  • U of T Nursing Faculty discount is available to participants who hold a current faculty position, an adjunct appointment or a status appointment to the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto
  • NPAO (Nurse Practitioner Association of Ontario) members may register at the NPAO rate which is 15% off the regular rate. Please note, your name will be used to confirm that you are a member of the NPAO.
  • Applicable taxes (13% HST) will be added to the registration fees.
  • Course Cancellation Policy – The Centre for Professional Development reserves the right to cancel courses due to circumstances. The decision to cancel a course is normally made 15 days prior to the course. If you are enrolled in a course which is subsequently cancelled, you may apply your fee to another course, or receive a full refund. The Centre is not responsible for any travel or other expenses incurred by you.

Financial Assistance

OSAP Funding

The Ontario Student Assistance Program now offers funding for micro-credentials (short training programs offered by post-secondary institutions), including a number of courses offered by the Centre for Professional Development. This funding initiative is part of Ontario’s micro-credentials strategy, helping learners access more opportunities to train or upskill for in-demand jobs through loans and grants.

How to Apply for OSAP Funding

This course is OSAP approved (more approved courses are listed below, and you can also verify on the Micro-credentials Portal). To apply for financial assistance through OSAP you will need to establish an OSAP account. You must apply before the course completion date. Visit

Once you have registered for an eligible OSAP Micro-credential program, the University Registrar’s Office requires a Micro-Credential Program information form to be completed to process your OSAP application. Please fill out the top section of the form and send it to to get assistance in completing the form.

For questions regarding the OSAP Micro-Credential funding, eligibility or application process, please contact UofT’s Enrolment Services directly at, or by phone at 416-978-2190 for assistance.

Contact Us

Centre for Professional Development
Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
University of Toronto
155 College Street, Suite 130
Toronto, ON, Canada
M5T 1P8