This Learning Pathway contains a comprehensive set of training and tools to help board-certified chaplains address the unique needs of patients and families living with serious illness. Education topics include assessing patient needs and concerns, understanding patients’ goals for care, addressing the suffering caused by symptom burden, and helping patients to avoid crises and plan for the future.

Assess the Needs and Concerns of Patients

Introduction to Palliative Care for Health Professionals

An introduction to palliative care, how it is delivered, its impact on quality of life, and the growing population of patients who need it.

Spiritual Screening Tool

Assessment for suffering, distress, disconnection, or spiritual pain. Supportive Care Coalition.

Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI-12)

Self-reported caregiver assessment.

Strengthen the Clinician-Patient Relationship and Understand Care Goals

Discussing Serious News

Learn best practices for having patient-centered conversations about a serious illness diagnosis.

Clarifying Patient Goals of Care

Learn best practices for building trust, eliciting patient values, and having patient-centered conversations about goals of care.

Care Planning

Learn techniques to help patients and their caregivers plan for the future, both during the early stages of a serious illness and as a disease progresses.


Structured VitalTalk conversation map for late goals of care conversations.

Hoping for a Miracle? Chaplain Roles with Patients, Families and the Interdisciplinary Team

Talk given by Denise Hess, MDiv, BCC-PCHAC (Executive director of the Supportive Care Coalition) for the Association for Professional Chaplains.

Unconscious Bias: What It Is, How It Influences Health Care, and What You Can Do About It

Defines unconscious bias and how it influences patient care, and provides ways to reduce the impact of unconscious bias on care delivery.

Talking with Patients About Hospice

This resource lists step-wise tips to foster comfortable, productive dialogue for ‘the hospice conversation’.

Manage Pain and Symptoms

Course 1: Comprehensive Pain Assessment

Conducting a comprehensive pain assessment to guide safe and effective treatment.

Prevent Crises and Plan Ahead

National database of community services - enter a zip code and locate assistance with food, housing, health services, care needs, and other resources.

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