Introduction to Hospice and Palliative Care

Intro to Hospice and Palliative Care

Course Description

This one-credit pass/fail course is designed to provide undergraduate preprofessional students with an introductory understanding of palliative and hospice care.  It is designed specifically for undergraduates interested in careers in healthcare, but can also be useful to students aspiring to work in other helping professions.  This course will provide students with an in-depth understanding of palliative and hospice care, focusing on how this care is given in the current healthcare system.  Hospice administrators, physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual care staff, and bereavement therapists are the faculty for the course. Students will also be given an introduction in compassionate interpersonal communication skills, which are needed in caring for people who are in need of palliative care and for people who are dying.  A number of films will be used including the Frontline documentaries, “Facing Death” and “Okuyamba.”  Offered every three semesters.


Dominic O. Vachon M.Div., Ph.D., director of the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine and professor of the practice at the University of Notre Dame, will be the Notre Dame faculty member coordinating the course along with experts at the Center for Hospice Care and IU Goshen Center for Cancer Care. 

Other faculty and subject area for the day:

  • Mark Murray, President and CEO Center for Hospice Care: History of Hospice
  • Dr. Lyle Fettig, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine IU School of Medicine Indianapolis
  • Sue Morgan, RN, BS, MS, Director of Nursing: Understanding the Hospice Model of Care
  • Terri Lawton, RN, BA, CHPN, Patient Care Coordinator: The Hospice Nurse as Care Coordinator
  • Dave Labrum, LMAC: Alternative Grief Support Strategies
  • Holly Farmer, MS, LCSW, LMFT, Bereavement Coordinator: The Grieving Process, Interdisciplinary Team
  • Rachel Rose, RN, Perinatal Suppport Services Coordinator, Perinatal Grief
  • Karen Lance, LCSW, Social Work Coordinator: Interdisciplinary Team
  • Larry Rice, MA, MDiv, Chaplain: Interdisciplinary Team
  • Mike Wargo, COO, Hospice Foundation
  • Cyndy Searfoss, MA, Director of Education and Collaborative Partnerships, Hospice Foundation
  • Kristiana Donahue, Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator: Community Support & the Value of Volunteers in Hospice Care
  • Greg Giffford MD, JD, AMBS: The Physician & Nurse Practitioner's Role in Hospice and Palliative Care; Interdisciplinary Team

Date: SPRING 2020 Class:  A Wednesday OR Thursday evening class from 6:00 -9:00pm AND a Saturday class from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a student self-study component (i.e. viewing several films online). 

 Number of students:  Maximum of 250 students

Location:  105 Jordan Hall of Science

Assignments:  Attendance at the 3 hours evening class and an day-long Saturday class is mandatory. Three to five page paper to include a summary of hospice and palliative care, reflections on what the students gained from the course, and how this relates to their future careers.  There will be a pre-test and a post-test for the day class. Self-study component involve several readings and films that can be completed online.

Meals:  We will be providing lunch on-site to conserve time.  No charge.