Certification and Licensing

Individual Certification and Licensing

Physician Certification

Since 2008, the examination has been administered by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS.) See the AAHPM website for full details.

Nursing Certification

The Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center 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. 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. Visit the NASW Credentialing Center for further information.

Advanced Palliative Hospice Social Worker-certified (APHSW-c)

A certification is available through the University of Louisville for experienced master's level and bachelor's level social workers. Discounts are available for SWHPN members. Contact swcert@louisville.edu for more information.

For more information about social work licensure in each state, including types, requirements, continuing education, and more, reference MSWGuide.org.

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. The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy also offers training and accreditation for chaplains, pastoral supervisors, and pastoral psychotherapists.

Palliative Care Program Certification

Achieving program certification signals to patients, families, payers, and others that the services you deliver are of high quality. In fact, some payers are beginning to require program certification for payment and quality bonuses. The following options are available:

Hospital-Based Program Certifications

The Joint Commission (TJC) Advanced Certification for Palliative Care

The Joint Commission's Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care is designed to recognize hospital inpatient programs that demonstrate exceptional patient and family-centered care in order to optimize the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses. The Joint Commission has developed standards for palliative care programs from the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, and includes standards that are specific to palliative care and additional standards that more broadly address issues such as privacy and security of medical records. To be eligible for Advanced Certification for Palliative Care, a palliative care program must be provided within a Joint Comission-accredited hospital. All types of hospitals are eligible, including children's hospitals and long-term acute care hospitals. A dedicated unit or dedicated beds are not required, but there must be a full-time service that patients can access 24/7.

To get started, programs should become familiar with the standards and complete a self-assessment. Your hospital Quality Management (or equivalent) department can help to review your assessment and determine an Action Plan. Visit The Joint Commission to learn more.

DNV GL Healthcare Palliative Care Program Certification

The DNV GL Healthcare Palliative Care Program Certification recognizes excellence in inpatient palliative care delivery. The DNV GL Palliative Care Program Certification (PCPC) requirements are built from both the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care as well as CMS Conditions of Participation for hospitals. Applying hospital programs do not need to have DNV GL accreditation. 

Community-Based Program Certifications

The Joint Commission Community-Based Palliative Care Certification Program

The Joint Commission also provides a Community-Based Palliative Care (CBPC) Certification Program for home care agencies and hospices. Like the hospital-based advanced certification, this community-based palliative care certification draws on the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care. Eligible organizations must hold Joint Commission accreditation. 

Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) Distinction in Palliative Care

ACHC released its Distinction in Palliative Care in spring 2017. The distinction allows home health, hospice, and private duty agencies to affirm that their community-based palliative care programs provide the highest-quality care to patients with life-threating illnesses. The ACHC Distinction in Palliative Care standards are based on the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care and were developed in coordination with a team of industry leaders, facilitated by Judi Lund Person, NHPCO’s Vice President of Regulatory and Compliance. Eligible organizations must have:

  • A palliative care program that provides services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as necessary to meet patient needs
  • The structure to provide palliative care in the community
  • ACHC Accreditation for Home Health, Hospice, or Private Duty Nursing 

Home-Based Primary and Palliative Care

Many patients living with serious illness are served by home-based primary care programs, and these services often include palliative care competencies, principles, and practices. At the current time, there is no distinct certification available for this type of program.  

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