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The Hospice and Palliative Care Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Workforce: Results of a National Survey

Pawlow, Patricia, MSN, ACNP- BC; Dahlin, Constance, MSN, ANP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN; Doherty, Caroline L., MSN, AGACNP-BC, AACC; Ersek, Mary, PhD, RN, FPCN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: August 2018 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 349–357
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000449
Feature Articles

One barrier to continued growth of palliative care is the shortage of qualified hospice and palliative care clinicians. Advanced practice registered nurses are an important part of the interdisciplinary palliative care team, and strengthening this workforce can help alleviate the shortage of clinicians and improve access to quality palliative care. However, there is a dearth of information about this workforce. The purpose of this study was to describe the current hospice and palliative care advanced practice registered nurse workforce, their educational needs, and barriers to practice. The investigators distributed an online survey between October 2016 and January 2017 and received 556 responses. Sixty-three percent had more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse yet were newer to practice as a hospice and palliative care advanced practice nurse, with 53.8% having 0 to 5 years of experience in this role. Forty-one percent indicated that their traditional graduate educational preparation was insufficient in preparing them for their specialty role. Most indicated that they did not experience barriers to practice in their current position, but 7.3% identified significant issues. These results can inform future professional, educational, and regulatory efforts to support and develop the palliative care advanced practice registered nurse workforce.

Patricia Pawlow, MSN, ACNP- BC, is associate program director, AGACNP and AGCNS Programs and Oncology Minor, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia.

Constance Dahlin, MSN, ANP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN, is director, Professional Practice, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, Pittsburgh, PA.

Caroline L. Doherty, MSN, AGACNP-BC, AACC, is teaching faculty, AGACNP Program, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA.

Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FPCN, is professor, Palliative Care, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; and senior scientist, Veteran Experience Center, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Address correspondence to Patricia Pawlow, MSN, ACNP-BC, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 418 Curie Blvd, Room 351, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2018 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.