CareSearch Blog: Palliative Perspectives

The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.

How well prepared are health professionals to have tough conversations that matter?

A guest blog post by Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia

  • 12 September 2018
  • Author: Guest
  • Number of views: 2062
How well prepared are health professionals to have tough conversations that matter?

Most health professionals want what’s best for their patients. It’s part of their DNA. Increasingly, the health professionals I meet understand the importance of advance care planning in supporting patient-care. However many of them express that while they would like to help patients with advance care planning, they need more training and support to improve their skills and confidence in handling these robust conversations.
Given that advance care planning content is not a standard element in medical, nursing or allied health curricula, this is hardly surprising. Dealing with patients suffering from chronic and complex health conditions is tough. There are symptoms to manage, emotions to navigate and loved ones to consider. Asking them to think about a future time when they may be too ill to make their own decisions can be even tougher. However we can’t shy away from these difficult conversations. Research tells us that there are benefits for people taking a more active role in their future health care.
Free online learning to support health professionals
Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) offers free online learning to enable busy health professionals to upskill and build confidence in advance care planning. Our online platform is easy to use and features learning modules and video content enabling health professionals to learn anywhere, any time. Our content is evidence-based and offers practical information for Australian health professionals, including real life case studies and legal considerations. Visit Advance Care Planning Australia Learning.
The case for integrating advance care planning in university health curricula
Given the considerable social and economic challenges that come with a rapidly ageing population, we are strongly of the view that advance care planning should be integrated as a standard Australian curricula element for medicine, nursing and health courses in higher education. ACPA is currently working on a project to explore how we might include advance care planning content into Australian tertiary education health programs. If you are an education provider and interested in getting involved in this project, please get in touch with us at
We look forward to a future where the next generation of health professionals are equipped with advance care planning knowledge and skills, before they step into our hospitals and clinics. Only then will we succeed
in truly empowering and supporting people to make their own treatment decisions.

Profile picture of Linda Nolte

Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia

For more information about the aspects of and current evidence on advance care planning, visit this page. You can also read practice pointers here.


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The CareSearch blog Palliative Perspectives informs and provides a platform for sharing views, tips and ideas related to palliative care from community members and health professionals. 

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