Schools for Hospice Care

Hospice care coursework can be found in some health care degree programs and through hospice organizations. Learn about related degrees, areas of study and professional certification. Schools offering Health Care Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Aspiring hospice care workers can earn a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in this area. Licensure might also be required. Volunteer programs are available.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice derives from hospes, a Latin word which means to host a stranger or guest. Today, it refers to the care that a team of clinical professionals and volunteers can offer to patients who are facing the end of their lives. The philosophy of hospice care is to provide medical, emotional and spiritual support to the patient and the patient's family. A large part consists of palliative care, which is a medical specialty dealing in the relief of pain and the stress and discomfort surrounding it.

Where Can I Get a Degree?

Though they are rare, some schools offer programs that lead to an associate's or bachelor's degree or undergraduate certificate in hospice and palliative studies. If you have a major in a related area, schools may give you the opportunity to pursue individual courses in hospice and palliative studies as a minor or specialization. Some of the training may be available online. In addition to hospice-related courses, the degree programs also carry general education requirements.

If you hold a current license as a registered nurse and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you may qualify for a program leading to a Master of Science in Nursing specializing in palliative care. In addition, there are 1- and 2-year fellowships for medical school graduates that lead to a certificate or master's degree in palliative care.

What Schools Offer Certificates in Hospice Care?

Certificate programs in hospice care often focus on palliative care and end of life care. These programs are typically about a year long.

  • Portland Community College has a Gerontology: End of Life Care and Support Certificate
  • Bellevue University has a Certificate of Completion in Home and Hospice Care
  • The University of Colorado offers a Palliative Care Certificate

Schools Offering Associate's Degrees in Hospice Care

Associate's degree programs in nursing or practical nursing often include courses in chronic and palliative care. Aspiring nurses also learn how to provide comfort and support to families when death is inevitable.

  • North Hennepin Community College has an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree program in nursing
  • Metropolitan Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in practical nursing
  • Delta College offers an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in nursing

What Schools Offer Bachelor's Degrees in Hospice Care?

Bachelor's degree programs at the following schools also include courses in palliative care or for working with the elderly in particular.

  • Ralph and Betty Engelstad School of Health Sciences has a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree program in cardiorespiratory sciences
  • New York Institute of Technology has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in nursing
  • Nicholls State University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in general family and consumer sciences

What Other Training Is Available?

If you're not a medical professional but would like to volunteer to participate in hospice and palliative care, you can receive training from a number of professional hospice organizations. Some examples include the National Hospice Foundation, the American Hospice Foundation and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. You can also find local hospice organizations that offer volunteer training. In some cases, hospice organizations conduct their training programs through community colleges. Organizations often present courses by way of online delivery.

A volunteer training program doesn't include medical or clinical instruction. It typically lasts a number of weeks and includes topics such as pain and symptom management, spiritual and emotional issues, grief and bereavement, concepts of death and dying, communication skills, and overall hospice philosophy.

What About Certification?

As a graduate of a volunteer training program, you'll receive no industry-accepted designation. However, the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses administers certification examinations for health care professionals in the field. If you're a qualified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner or administrator, and you fulfill the work experience requirement, you may be eligible to sit for a certification examination.

Individuals looking for training in hospice care will likely enter into palliative care and nursing programs. Certificate programs are available in hospice care, while associate's and bachelor's degrees in nursing or related subjects can have courses devoted to palliative care.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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