Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

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Course 1: Integrating a Palliative Approach to Care and Essential Communication Skills for Nurse Practitioners

Fall 2023

6 week course

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Delivery Format: Online

OSAP Approved
Course Description
Course Outline
Financial Assistance
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  • Course Description

    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 setting. Participants will be introduced to the core competencies for palliative care that can be applied across the continuum from diagnosis to end of life. They will explore resources, prognostication tools and life-limiting illness trajectories that aid in communication, decision making and planning of care. Participants will also have an opportunity to apply communication tools to common difficult conversations such as advance care planning and goals of care.  These tools and skills form the basis of NP practice required to address the multifaceted needs of clients with progressive disease and will support complex symptom and end of life care management that is comprehensively addressed in courses 2 & 3.

    Course Outcomes

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

    1. Articulate the Nurse Practitioner role in working with adult clients and their families living with a progressive and life-limiting illness.
    2. Develop a plan to incorporate a palliative approach to care and palliative care core competencies into their routine NP practice.
    3. Utilize early identification & prognostication tools as part of a comprehensive assessment to guide decision making and care planning at key transition points in the trajectory of a serious illness.
    4. Select and utilize specific communication tools to facilitate communication about the illness including breaking bad news, Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care conversations.
    5. Demonstrate self-awareness and identify strategies for self-care in caring for the terminally-ill.
    6. Identify appropriate resources and referrals for clients and their families living with progressive and life-limiting illness.

    Certificate Criteria

    This is the first 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 three courses are:


    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)

  • Course Outline

    This course is a 6-week course delivered through the University of Toronto’s learning management system (Quercus). It is primarily self-paced; however participants are required to engage in discussions and submit activities/assignments within identified timelines (weekly). It is estimated that up to 8 hours of study per week is required for successful completion. The course will utilize a series of case scenarios to enhance learning and application.

    In each of the 6 weeks, participants are expected to:

    • View an e-learning module
    • Review required readings
    • Actively engage with the course material by participating in the learning activities/assignments

    For this course, the learning activities / assignments include:

    • Four on-line discussion activities which provide opportunity for participants to learn from the varied experiences, roles and perspectives of others
    • One short case study written assignment
    • One LIVE (via Zoom) session will take place for faculty & participants to engage with one another in a group discussion (alternative video submission option is also available for this activity for those unable to attend)
    Week Topic Evaluative Components
    Pre-course access will be available to allow for testing of computers and general navigation.
    Week 1 Introduction to Palliative Care Concepts & the NP Role

    • Principles & definitions of palliative care
    • Traditional vs. palliative approach to care models
    • Overview of competencies & standards for palliative care
    • Clinical and ethical decision-making
    • NP role & scope in caring for palliative care clients
    Discussion Post
    Week 2 Early Identification & Illness Trajectory

    • Introduction to prognostication tools
    • Review of specific life-limiting disease trajectories & key transition points in care for:
    • Incurable Cancers
    • Organ System Failure (Cardiac/ Respiratory/Kidney)
    • Frailty/ Dementia
    Discussion Board
    Week 3 Communication & Therapeutic Relationship Building

    • The role of communication in palliative care and the use of evidence-based tools to enhance communication
    • Managing your own emotions
    • Communication with other interprofessional team members
    Case Study Assignment
    Week 4 & 5 Key Conversations in Progressive Illness and Palliative Care (2 Weeks)

    • Common evidence-based tools to enhance palliative communications
    • Challenging conversations, such as:
      • Communicating new diagnosis, prognosis & “bad news”
      • Responding to high emotional states and “do not tell” requests
      • Responding to a MAiD request and communicating conscientious objection respectfully
      • Advance Care Planning (ACP) Conversation
      • Goals of Care Discussion
      • No CPR discussions
      • Preparing for family/team meetings
      • Communication with patients and families during a pandemic
    Discussion Board
    Week 6 NP Practice Environment Enablers

    • Complex planning and care co-ordination
    • Team Management
    • Debriefing & documentation
    • Practice settings
    • Resources & referral agencies
    • Caring for self
    • Resources for patients & families
    LIVE Conversation Tool Application Session
    Course content will remain open after Faculty have posted final grades for your review.
  • Faculty

    Julia Johnston, RN-EC, BScN, MN, NP-Adult, CHPCN(C)
    Nurse Practitioner Palliative Care, Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network
    Julia Johnston is a nurse practitioner in palliative care in the Mississauga Halton LHIN serving a diverse population of over 1 million residents.  She practices in the community in the capacity of most responsible provider, consultant and shared care collaborator.  Julia is a master facilitator of LEAP Learning Educational Approaches in Palliative Care and is the Past President of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Nurses Group. She is the Co-Lead of the Canadian Standards for Hospice Palliative Care Nursing.

    Julia earned her baccalaureate and Master of Nursing degree from the University of Toronto and is certified in Hospice Palliative Care Nursing through the Canadian Nurses Association.  She has over 30 years of nursing experience in acute care and the community in clinical, education and administrative roles.

    Karen Lock, RN(EC), NP-Adult, NP-C, BScN, MN, CON(C), CHPCN(C)
    Nurse Practitioner, Supportive Care, Medicine Program & The Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care, North York General Hospital
    Adjunct Lecturer, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto
    Karen Lock is a nurse practitioner in Supportive Care at North York General Hospital and a key member of the Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care. She provides palliative care to adults and their families living with life-limiting non-malignant illnesses. She works in collaboration with the interprofessional team from other specialty areas to provide a palliative approach to care to patients living with chronic diseases.

    Karen earned her Bachelor and Master degrees of nursing, and Post-Master’s NP Diploma from the University of Toronto. She attended the Center for Palliative Care at Harvard Medical School and received the Palliative Care Education and Practice Certification. She is a certified Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board. She is a LEAP (Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative and End-of-Life Care) and Serious Illness Conversation Trainer. She has been in the nursing field for over 20 years and is a CNA certified oncology and hospice/palliative nurse. Karen is a faculty member of the Chronic Disease and Symptom Optimization in the Care of the Older Adults: A Course for NPs and APNs at the Center for Professional Development.

  • Registration Information


    Early Bird price (ends August 25, 2022) $699 + HST
    Regular price (starts August 26, 2022) $770 + HST
    U of T Nursing Alumni save 15% $660 + HST
    U of T Nursing Adjunct and Status Faculty save 15% $660 + HST
    NPAO Member save 15% $660 + 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 August 25, 2022. 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
    • Advanced registration is required. Registration deadline: September 16, 2022.
    • U of T Nursing Alumni discount is available to BScN, MN, PMNP Diploma, MScN or PhD graduates of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.
    • U of T Nursing Faculty discount is available to individuals with a faculty position, adjunct or status appointment, or are a Clinical Instructor (current academic year only) at the Lawrence S. 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 AssistanceOSAP Approved

    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.

    Download the Micro-credential Program Information Form (PDF)

    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.

    Eligible courses offered by the Centre for Professional Development

    • Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Reasoning in Primary Health Care: A Review for Nurse Practitioners
    • Advanced Ostomy Care and Management
    • Complex Symptom Management in Palliative Care for Nurse Practitioners
    • Controlled Drugs and Substances: Essential Management and Prescribing Practices
    • End of Life Care Management for Nurse Practitioners
    • Integrating a Palliative Approach to Care and Essential Communication Skills for Nurse Practitioners
    • Leadership & Management in Health Care: Managing Business
    • Leadership & Management in Health Care: Managing People
    • Leadership & Management in Health Care: Managing Practice, Quality Care & Operational Performance
    • Leadership & Management in Health Care: Role, Competencies, and Context
    • Mental Health 1 for Nurse Practitioners
    • Mental Health 2 for Nurse Practitioners
    • Mental Health 3 for Nurse Practitioners
    • Mental Health 4 for Nurse Practitioners
    • Nursing Education for the Practice Setting: Assessment and Evaluation
    • Nursing Education for the Practice Setting: Design, Delivery and Facilitation
    • Nursing Education for the Practice Setting: Theoretical Perspectives and Context
    • Point-of-Care Clinical Leadership for Managing Quality Care & Operations in Long-Term Care
    • Point-of-Care Clinical Leadership for Working With & Leading Long-Term Care Teams
    • Point-of-Care Clinical Leadership in the Context of Long-Term Care
    • Pressure Injuries and Complex Surgical Wounds: An Advanced Practice Course
    • Review of Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
    • Role of the Nurse Practitioner and Care of the Hospitalized Adult 1
    • Role of the Nurse Practitioner and Care of the Hospitalized Adult 2
    • Role of the Nurse Practitioner and Care of the Hospitalized Adult 3
    • Role of the Nurse Practitioner and Care of the Hospitalized Adult 4
    • Wound Management for Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Nurses: A Best Practice Boot Camp on Lower Extremity Ulcers
  • Contact Us

    Phone: (416) 978-1784
    Address: Centre for Professional Development
    Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
    University of Toronto
    155 College Street
    Suite 130
    Toronto, ON
    M5T 1P8

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