Introduction to Palliative Care



Online Course | Instructor: Jennifer J. Halpern, Ph.D., LMSW, APHSW-C
CEs: 1.5 | Level: Intermediate

Date of original webinar: July 22, 2020, noon - 1:30 p.m. ET

Palliative care—succinctly defined as a team-based approach to symptom management at any stage of a life-threatening illness, focused on quality-of-life for the whole person and their family or caregivers—is a philosophy of care and practice. Set against a backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this webinar is particularly timely as the public is experiencing the immense tragedy of losing loved ones who are passing away in isolation. This introduction will reveal how palliative care returns the values of the patient and the full range of comfort back to the forefront of medicine. 

Trained palliative social workers are in high demand; it’s estimated that while about 8 percent of all hospital admissions could benefit from palliative care, between 1-1.8 million patients are not receiving it (Rogers & Dumanovsky, 2017). We will discuss the history of palliative care/hospice services, including social work. Discussing the myths and the truths surrounding this field will clarify the distinctions between palliative care, hospice and comfort care and will provide a lens on some of the social justice issues affecting this part of medical care.

We’ll review some of the numerous roles for passionate palliative/hospice social workers. We will introduce social worker’s role in the micro, meso and macro levels of health-related organizations and the community and will discuss how the experienced practitioner is likely to incorporate all of these approaches. Opportunities exist for palliative social workers for every major disease type and for generalists and for working with children through seniors. Finally, we’ll discuss becoming involved in the field.

Target Audience:

Social workers and other social service providers.

Course Delivery Method and Format:

Recorded webinar, self study. All courses are hosted on SmithOnline. Login information will be emailed immediately after registration to the email address entered during registration.

System Requirements:

Attendees will need access to a computer with internet and the capability to play recorded videos.

Registration Fee and Deadlines:

Fee: $35 (one time registration fee $5) | Ongoing

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define palliative care with reference to its core philosophy.
  2. Differentiate between palliative care, hospice and comfort care.
  3. Describe at least three major roles of the hospice/palliative social worker.
  4. List examples of hospice/palliative social work on the micro, meso and macro levels.


  • Definition palliative care
  • Brief history of palliative care and hospice
  • Domains of practice
  • Difference between palliative care and hospice
  • Distinguishing between hospice and comfort care in the hospital
  • Principles of palliative care
  • The range of palliative care practice: from early integration through death and bereavement.
  • Myths and Truths
  • Social and racial disparities in accessing palliative care and hospice
  • What are some roles for hospice/palliative social workers?
  • (TEAR: Teamwork, education, advocacy, referral)
  • Working with individuals, families, MD’s and nurses as a team, and advocating for the profession within the hospital and the community.
  • Micro, meso, macro areas
  • Be prepared to deal with illness, death, trauma—and joy, gratitude and love.
  • How to get involved with the field

Instructor Biography:

Jennifer Halpern, Ph.D., LMSW, APHSW-C, is a senior certified palliative social worker at the Oncology Support Program (OSP) of the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, working with inpatients and outpatients. She is the Psychosocial Coordinator for the hospital’s Cancer Committee and Chair of the Ethics Committee. She developed the Curriculum Guide for the APHSW certification exam as SWHPN’s Educational Consultant. Halpern received her doctorate in social psychology/organizational behavior from UC Berkeley, and was an assistant professor at Cornell University.

Completion Requirements for Recorded webinars and online courses.

To receive a CE certificate, you must complete the entirety of the recorded webinar or recorded video presentation. Partial credit will not be awarded to those who attend only a portion of the class. For recorded webinars and online courses, participants must complete an evaluation and a post test, noting the length of time to complete the course. Participants must earn a minimum score of 80 percent on the post test in order to earn CEs. Retesting is allowed up to five (5) times. If a passing score is not achieved, CEs will not be awarded. Links to the evaluation and post test are available in SmithOnline. Participants must also complete an attestation of completion for each fully completed course. A copy of the attestation is available in SmithOnline. It is attendee’s responsibility to contact their state licensing board/certification boards to determine eligibility to meet continuing education requirements.

How Will a CE Certificate Be Awarded?

Upon completing the course evaluation and successfully passing the post test, participants will be emailed their online certificate​ within 30 days of course completion​. ​Participants should save and/or print ​the certificate upon receipt for ​their records. Receiving the CE certificate is contingent on submitting attestion, completion of the evaluation and passing the post test.

Continuing Education Credits and Accreditation

Social Work CE Credit: The Smith College School for Social Work, provider #1755, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. The Smith College School for Social Work maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 11/19/2020-11/19-2021. Social workers completing this course receive 1.5 continuing education credits. 

The Smith College School for Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is therefore authorized to provide CEs as a postsecondary institution accredited by CSWE in many states. Courses offered through the School's Program of Professional Education are awarded continuing education credits in accordance with Continuing Education Regulation 258, CMR, 31.00 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Smith College School for Social Work, Office of Professional Education SW OPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0169. If outside these states, please contact your licensing board for accreditation information regarding your state. Association of Social Work Boards database of social work licensure requirements.

Psychology CE Credit: Co-sponsored training events for psychology CE credit with Smith College School for Social Work. Amego Prepare​ is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Amego Prepare maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Due to changes in continuing education requirements for NY licensed psychologists, APA CE Sponsor credits may not be accepted for re-licensure at this time. Please check the NY Psychology Board regulations for CE requirements currently in effect.

Further information on policies and CE accreditation can be found here.

Mary Curtin | Manager of Professional Education

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