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

Delivering Serious News

Communicating serious clinical news to patients and families.

Communication Phrases in Palliative Care

Phrases to use when talking to members/patients and their families about prognosis, advance care planning, and quality of life.

Advance Care Planning Conversations

How to initiate and conduct conversations about advance care planning.


Structured VitalTalk conversation map for late goals of care conversations.

Clarifying Goals of Care

Strategies for eliciting patient goals and preferences to inform treatment decisions.

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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