CAPC’s online curriculum provides clinicians from any specialty with skills to improve the quality of life for people living with serious illness. CAPC courses are case-based, interactive, and provide free continuing education credits for CAPC members.

Clinicians can earn CAPC Designation status after completing all courses in the Pain Management, Symptom Management, Communication Skills, Best Practices in Dementia Care and Caregiver Support, Social Work Serious Illness, and Registered Nursing Serious Illness units. Following are lists of the clinical competencies taught in each unit.

  • Perform a comprehensive pain assessment
  • Recognize specific pain types and patterns that guide safe and effective treatment
  • Select a medication class that matches the patient’s pain type and pattern
  • Refine drug choice, accounting for benefits, side effects, and risks of each drug class
  • Select the minimum effective medication appropriate for treating pain for the seriously ill patient
  • Integrate patient and family factors into a safe pain management strategy
  • Integrate routine and universal formal risk assessment and risk stratification for substance use
  • Design an opioid trial based on pain type, patterns, and patient factors
  • Understand opioid pharmacokinetics that impact dose scheduling
  • Integrate U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) guidelines into valid prescription writing practices
  • Assess opioid effectiveness accounting for side effects, risks, and patient/family goals
  • Assess for “Red Flag” behaviors suggestive of substance use disorder
  • Use safe and appropriate pain management strategies in seriously ill patients at risk for or with concurrent substance use disorder
  • Convert from one opioid to another
  • Account for incomplete cross tolerance when changing between opioid agents
  • Convert to a single opioid when patients are on multiple opioids and/or routes of delivery
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of opioid toxicities
  • Manage opioid toxicities and side effects including safe tapering
  • Manage pain in imminently dying patients
  • Recognize when and how to use Patient Controlled Analgesia
  • Recognize the prevalence and type of symptom burden for patients with serious illness
  • Use validated screening tools to assess for:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Dyspnea
    • Constipation
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
  • Apply the medical evidence to develop a pharmacologic and/or non-pharmacologic management plan for the following symptoms:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Dyspnea
    • Constipation
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
  • Assess patient and/or surrogate understanding of his/her clinical condition
  • Get permission to share difficult news, discuss prognosis, and to begin conversations about advance care planning
  • Communicate serious news clearly
  • Confirm patient and family understanding of serious clinical news
  • Acknowledge and respond to patients’ emotional reactions in conversation
  • Deliver a clear assessment of prognosis to the patient and acknowledge emotional impact
  • Elicit information about what is most important to the patient in the context of the illness
  • Explore the patient’s values as they influence the care options, or guide surrogate decision-makers to explore the values and goals of the patient
  • Conduct a family meeting
  • Identify and articulate patient and family values that influence treatment decisions
  • Define the goals of advance care planning conversations for the patient
  • Explore the future with the patient in a non-threatening way through advance care planning discussion
  • Communicate clearly about a diagnosis of dementia, including assessing patient understanding, using appropriate language, and responding to emotional cues throughout the conversation
  • Discuss physiological changes in the brain that cause various symptoms of dementia and what to expect at each stage of the disease
  • Evaluate decision-making capacity in people living with dementia and facilitate patient-centered decisions
  • Engage people living with dementia, and their caregivers, in future planning, including conversations around advance care planning, personal care, living, legal, and financial arrangements, driving, and home safety
  • Include caregivers of people living with dementia in care planning
  • Use validated assessment tools to identify cognitive impairment, and assess both patient and caregiver needs
  • Refer people living with dementia, and their caregivers, to community-based support services, including respite care, caregiver education, support groups, and safe return programs
  • Interpret behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia as communication of unmet needs, and offer appropriate nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions to meet those needs
  • Assess for depression and apathy syndrome in people living with dementia, and offer nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments as needed
  • Assess for and treat pain and infections in people living with dementia utilizing nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies as appropriate
  • Treat sleep disturbances and swallowing disorders in people living with dementia using nonpharmacologic and (if appropriate) pharmacologic therapies
  • Discuss complicated medical decisions with family and other caregivers of people living with advanced dementia, including treatment of infections and use of long-term feeding tubes
  • Define palliative care and the impact it has on quality of life for patients and their families
  • Describe the characteristics of patients who can benefit from palliative care
  • Locate resources to address your patients' palliative care needs
  • Assess patient and/or caregiver understanding of serious illness diagnosis and trajectory
  • Get permission to share news, and communicate serious news clearly with the patient, their family, and caregivers
  • Acknowledge and respond to emotional reactions from patients and families
  • Recognize the importance of a pre-meeting before the family meeting
  • Acknowledge the perspective and emotions of each participant while maintaining a focused discussion
  • Identify and articulate patient and family values that influence treatment decisions
  • Elicit permission to begin conversations about advance care planning with the patient and their family
  • Define the goals of advance care planning conversations for the patient
  • Position advance care planning in the future, and distinguish it from present decision-making
  • Recognize that advance care planning conversations inform your understanding of the patient’s values and allow you to explore the future with the patient in a non-threatening way
  • Deliver a clear assessment of prognosis to your patient, and acknowledge emotional impact
  • Reinforce patient and family coping mechanisms
  • Elicit what is most important to the patient in the context of the illness
  • Explore your patient’s values as they influence care options, or guide surrogate decision-makers to explore the values and goals of the patient
  • Define care coordination
  • Define the clinician’s role in care coordination
  • Identify patients and caregivers who will most benefit from care coordination
  • Identify strategies for embedding care coordination into practice
  • Acknowledge the discrepancy between what is expected of family caregivers of people with serious illness and the resources provided to them in today’s health care system
  • Recognize the multiple roles filled by family caregivers across the disease trajectory
  • Identify common precipitants of burden experienced by family caregivers
  • Recognize the critical role that all providers play in assessing and supporting caregivers from the first point of contact and across the illness trajectory
  • Describe the importance of safe and effective management of pain in people with serious illness
  • Identify the elements of a comprehensive pain assessment
  • Recognize specific pain types and patterns that guide safe and effective treatment
  • Describe the prevalence of depression and anxiety among people with serious illness and their impact on quality of life
  • Recognize that depression and anxiety are treatable
  • Identify the importance of screening people with serious illness for depression and anxiety
  • Deploy evidence-based strategies for the treatment of depression and anxiety
  • Assess patient and/or caregiver understanding of serious illness diagnosis and trajectory and get permission to share news
  • Acknowledge and respond to emotional reactions from patients and families
  • Recognize the importance of a pre-meeting before the family meeting
  • Acknowledge the perspective and emotions of each participant while maintaining a focused discussion
  • Identify and articulate patient and family values that influence treatment decisions
  • Elicit permission to begin conversations about advance care planning with the patient and their family
  • Define the goals of advance care planning conversations for the patient
  • Position advance care planning in the future, and distinguish it from present decision-making
  • Recognize that advance care planning conversations inform your understanding of the patient’s values and allow you to explore the future with the patient in a non-threatening way
  • Elicit what is most important to the patient in the context of the illness
  • Explore your patient’s values as they influence care options, or guide surrogate decision-makers to explore the values and goals of the patient
  • Describe the prevalence of depression and anxiety among people with serious illness and their impact on quality of life
  • Recognize that depression and anxiety are treatable
  • Identify the importance of screening people with serious illness for depression and anxiety
  • Deploy evidence-based strategies for the treatment of depression and anxiety
  • Describe the impact of constipation on quality of life for the patient with serious illness
  • Identify best practices to assess and diagnose constipation in the patient with serious illness
  • Explain the relationship between opioids and constipation
  • Develop strategies to reduce the physical and emotional suffering caused by constipation
  • Describe the physical and emotional impact of dyspnea on people with serious illness
  • Identify the physical causes of shortness of breath in the seriously ill patient population
  • Explain the impact of emotional factors that contribute to dyspnea
  • Develop a systematic approach to reduce the physical and emotional suffering from dyspnea
  • Define the prevalence of nausea and vomiting among people with serious illness and its impact on quality of life
  • Describe the importance of neurobiological pathways and how antiemetics work to block them
  • Develop strategies to reduce the impact and suffering from nausea and vomiting for patients and their caregivers
  • Describe the importance of safe and effective management of pain in people with serious illness
  • Identify the elements of a comprehensive pain assessment
  • Recognize specific pain types and patterns that guide safe and effective treatment
  • Incorporate patient and family factors into a safe pain management strategy
  • Identify and address barriers to the efficacy of the pain management plan
  • Acknowledge the discrepancy between what is expected of family caregivers of people with serious illness and the resources provided to them in today’s health care system
  • Recognize the multiple roles filled by family caregivers across the disease trajectory
  • Identify common precipitants of burden experienced by family caregivers
  • Recognize the critical role that all providers play in assessing and supporting caregivers from the first point of contact and across the illness trajectory