Center to Advance Palliative Care

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Certification and Licensing

The Joint Commission (TJC) Advanced Certification for Palliative Care

The Joint Commission's new Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care is designed to recognize hospital inpatient programs that demonstrate exceptional patient and family-centered care. The standards of palliative care certification are built upon the National Consensus Project's Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care.

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Physician Certification

Starting in 2008, the examination has been administered by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS.) See our Physician Certification Factsheet and the AAHPM website for full details.

A 12-month accredited fellowship program will be required after the grandfathering period ends in 2012. Physicians interested in gaining entry into the examination before then should be working now to attain the required number of clinical hours and interdisciplinary team involvement.

Visit the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) for full details.

Nursing Certification

The National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses website offers information about hospice and palliative nursing certification. A calendar of testing dates is also available.

Social Work Certification

Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker

A bachelor’s level social worker in hospice and palliative care provides a professional continuum of services that addresses the psychosocial needs of patients and families affected by serious and life limiting illness in order to maintain, or improve, their optimal quality of life. Social work activities are focused on the bio-psychosocial components of health and mental health from a strengths-based perspective, and intervention is based on an evolving plan of care developed in the context of and interdisciplinary team’s comprehensive plan of care.

Visit the NASW Credentialing Center for further information.

Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW)

A master’s level social worker in hospice and palliative care provides a professional continuum of services that addresses the psychosocial needs of patients and families affected by serious and life limiting illness in order to maintain, or improve, their optimal quality of life. Social work activities are focused on the bio-psychosocial components of health and mental health from a strengths-based perspective, and intervention is based on an evolving plan of care that is developed in the context of, and contributes to, the interdisciplinary team’s comprehensive plan of care. To that end, the Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW) engages in direct service to patients and their families, leadership activities within organizations and communities, education, resource development, advocacy, and policy initiatives.

In order to secure the ACHP-SW, a social worker must be a member of both NASW and NHPCO’s National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals (NCHPP). NCHPP is the individual membership category of NHPCO, comprised of professionals who work throughout the hospice and palliative care field. NCHPP exists to support the individual discipline and the team concept. Social workers who are employed by an organizational provider member of NHPCO can join NCHPP for free. For others, a modest membership rate applies. Student rates are also available.

Visit the NASW Credentialing Center for further information.

Chaplaincy Certification

Palliative care specialty certification is now available through the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc. (BCCI), an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), the largest organization of professional chaplaincy care providers in the U.S.

Attention has been given to making this process accessible to board certified chaplains working in the field who desire to show their progression and mastery of spiritual care competencies both experientially in their practice and through knowledge and use of palliative care literature. This certification will provide the chaplain with credentials comparable to the other disciplines on the palliative care team who have already established specialized standards and certifications (physician, nurse, social worker). The BCC-PCC standards are based on the nationally recognized Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, Third Edition. National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care (2013).

Palliative care specialty certification applications are now being accepted. Complete information is available on the BCCI website.

The Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc., an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains, certifies professional chaplains according to established national standards. Its mission is to foster excellence in chaplaincy through board certification. The vision of BCCI is to support quality chaplaincy care by professionally trained board certified chaplains to all those in need. This is done through certification of persons of quality and capability; maintenance of quality systems of certification; and timely certification processes.