Develop Skills in Teaching and Learning in Palliative Care

There are evidence based principles and strategies which can support those involved in teaching and learning in palliative care.

Principles of palliative care teaching and learning

The learning and teaching of palliative care should
  • reflect the core values of palliative care
  • incorporate experiences which encourage the development of a sensitive understanding of human responses and the intimate and personal nature of caring for persons who are dying
  • Include positive role models and messages related to dying 
  • Reflect dying as a normal part of the life cycle and an foster an open attitude towards death and dying 
  • encompass the beliefs, values and emotions of health professionals as well as the clinical skills and knowledge required, and should include strategies for developing self-awareness of these beliefs, values and emotions
  • focus on student learning outcomes and developing graduate or specialist capabilities integral to providing palliative care
  • reflect that quality palliative care relies on the best available evidence, considered within the context of clinical expertise and the individual person’s values and preferences for care
  • Reflect good partnerships between education and health service providers
  • Develop interpersonal communication between team members and positive attitudes towards interdisciplinary teamwork.

Teaching and learning strategies

The following recommendations can be applied, where appropriate, in a range of settings and by all providers of palliative care education. (Palliative Care Australia, Gamondi, Larkin et al. 2013, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2015)
  • Use adult-learning teaching methods and concepts
  • Use academic and / or teaching staff who have expertise in palliative care
  • Involve recognised industry, academic and clinical experts and consumers
  • Use inter-professional learning combined with discipline specific learning where appropriate
  • Use an interdisciplinary team of educators, comprising both clinicians and academics, to facilitate learning
  • Ensure culturally relevant, culturally safe and culturally respectful curricula
  • Use approaches which exploration of values, attitudes, assumptions and beliefs and promoting students to develop positive feelings about the care for people who are dying, their families and significant others
  • Provide clinical learning opportunities to integrate the principles of a palliative care, consider the range of clinical practice settings, including inpatient, consultative or community services.
Best practice educational approaches to develop palliative care capabilities include experiential learning, reflection, self-directed learning, mentoring, scenario analysis, and role playing. Use a range of learning approaches:
  • Digital learning tools can enhance the understanding of palliative care theory and its application to practice, enabling learners to engage in the learning process according to their preferences and needs
  • Face to face teaching approaches are a core element of practical training, particularly in the areas of skills development for sensitive communication and inter-professional interaction
  • Work integrated learning opportunities provide authentic and valuable learning experiences, (for example, participation in family meetings, mortality and morbidity conferences, and adverse event reviews)
  • Involvement of individuals, families and carers in palliative care learning and teaching can facilitate deeper understanding of the person’s experiences.

Information and resources to support the integration of palliative care into formal learning are under development. It is anticipated they will be released in 2019.

For further information and to provide feedback, email

Last updated 20 November 2018