Hospice Courses and Classes Overview

Undergraduate and graduate programs for nurses and home health aides often include hospice classes. Palliative care, healing touch and the sociology of death and dying are some subjects covered in hospice care courses.

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Essential Information

Students in hospice courses learn how to improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients. These classes are often available through master's and doctoral degree programs in nursing, as well as undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs in hospice or palliative care. Some training programs for home health aides cover hospice care as well.

In all 50 states, nurses must be licensed in order to practice, which entails completion of an approved training program and an exam. While home health aides and related hospice workers don't always need to be certified and licensed, it may be preferred by employers.

Here are some common concepts found in hospice courses:

  • Compassion
  • Emotional balance
  • Cultural diversity/rituals
  • Physical changes
  • Social habitat

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List of Classes

Hospice and Palliative Care Course

In this introductory hospice course, students sit in at a hospice facility and observe medical staff and how they interact with patients. Often, students practice techniques they've learned through lectures, such as ways to calm patients and family members, under supervision of a professional hospice worker. Students in this class begin to learn the basics of extending patients' quality of life.

Healing Touch Course

Through holistic hospice courses, such as this, students learn therapeutic techniques that can soothe patients without drugs. They practice methods for laying hands on patients to reduce pain, sleeplessness and nausea. The healing touch course also teaches therapies for easing patients and family members so they can reach a state where rest is possible. Not all hospice programs offer this course; it's considered more of an alternative medicine option.

Death and Dying Sociology Course

Through this intermediate hospice course, students learn ways to interact compassionately with terminally ill patients and their families. Students examine the clinical role that many on a nursing or physician staff develop when working with terminally ill patients. They also examine the best way to provide life-prolonging encouragement and care. Students learn how individuals commonly view the terminally ill and take lessons in grief and bereavement so they can help patients' family members and friends.

Effects of Impending Death Course

This hospice course generally involves both practical applications and lectures. Students gain practical experience working with hospice patients to fully understand the difficulties encountered by care providers. Through the lecture portion of the course, students examine the toll that working with terminally ill patients has on the medical staff and the ways to counter the stress of working in a hospice. Often, this course also examines how working in a hospice affects an individual's relationships with seriously ill friends, family members or acquaintances in her or his personal life.

Holistic Palliative Care Course

Students in a holistic palliative care course study specific methods, such drugs and other therapeutic techniques, that can be used to relieve pain, improve life expectancy and provide lucidity. They then integrate these methods in the clinical portion of the course. Students learn which methods are most effective and the types of results each creates. Often, the course discusses conditions that hinder effective pain relief and how to provide it regardless.

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