Skip to main content

Lagunita is retiring and will shut down at 12 noon Pacific Time on March 31, 2020. A few courses may be open for self-enrollment for a limited time. We will continue to offer courses on other online learning platforms; visit

Palliative Care Always

Enrollment is Closed


This is an archived course. This course ended in 2017 and it is no longer possible to enroll in it. If a Statement of Accomplishment was made available in this course to enrolled learners who earned a passing score before the course ended, it will be available for download until March 31, 2020.

Welcome to Palliative Care Always!

We are excited to have you join our community of participants interested in improving quality of life for patients and families experiencing serious illness.

About This Course

Palliative care can help ease suffering and improve wellbeing in people living with serious illnesses such as cancer.

Palliative Care Always is an online, case-based course for health care practitioners who work in cancer care. We believe that incorporating the principles of palliative care—symptom management, goals of care and effective communication—into clinical practice can improve the quality of life for our patients and their support systems. We also believe palliative medicine can improve quality of life for clinicians. We’ve designed this course to educate you about palliative medicine and how it integrates with oncology, and to help you develop primary palliative care skills. Our hope is that you feel increasingly equipped to support the diverse needs of your patients and your own needs as a healthcare provider.

Palliative Care Always features presentations from a variety of Stanford palliative medicine clinicians as well as video scenes with a fictional patient experiencing colon cancer. The course also includes interactive discussions with other participants to learn from role play and practical experiences.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the scope and role of palliative care as part of a patient and family’s care plan
  • Describe the components of an interdisciplinary treatment plan for physical, psychosocial, and spiritual care, including screening, assessment and management of patient needs
  • Describe the issues around transitions in care (e.g. survivorship or hospice transition) and key needs for patients and caregivers at these times
  • Clinicians: Practice basic symptom and distress management and determine when to involve palliative care specialists for extra support
  • Respond to common caregiver needs throughout the care continuum
  • Practice effective communication skills with other healthcare providers, patients, and their families; including responding to emotion, coaching in self-management of symptoms and distress, and discussing goals of care


This course is ideal for healthcare providers and volunteers working in oncology care, and patients and families living with cancer. No prior experience with palliative medicine or cancer care is necessary.

Course Staff

This course was developed by faculty members in Palliative Medicine at the Stanford Health Care. Your course moderator is Erika Tribett, MPH.

Course Staff Image #1

Kavitha Ramchandran MD

Kavitha Ramchandran MD, graduated with an undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University, did medical school and residency training in medicine at University of California, San Francisco and completed her fellowship in Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine at Northwestern University, Chicago. She joined faculty at Stanford University in 2007. Currently she is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Oncology and Division of General Medical Disciplines.


Contributing faculty and staff include:

  • Ellen Brown, MD - Physician and Medical Director of Pathways Hospice
  • Kelly Bugos, MA RN ANP-BC - Nurse Practitioner and Manager of the Survivorship program at Stanford Health Care
  • Sandy Chan, LCSW - Social worker and Manager of Outpatient Palliative Care at Stanford Health Care
  • Joshua Fronk, DO - Palliative care physician at Stanford Health Care
  • Lynn Hutton, MSW - Palliative care social worker at Stanford Health Care
  • Ed Kilbane, MD - Psychiatrist
  • Lori Klein, BCC - Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Care Services at Stanford Health Care
  • Manuela Kogon, MD - Internist, Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford Health Care
  • Alison Morris, DNP, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, OCN - Nurse practitioner, Inpatient Hematology/Oncology at Stanford Health Care
  • Judy Passaglia, RN MS ACHPN - Palliative nurse and Manager of Inpatient Palliative Care at Stanford Health Care
  • Kim Sickler, CNS - Palliative nurse specialist at Stanford Health Care
  • Analisa Trott, LCSW - Social worker at Lucile packard Children's Hospital
  • Mukund Acharya, PhD - Stanford Patient Family Partner, Palliative Care and Healthy Living Advocate, Aerospace Engineer

Course Structure

The course is a series of twelve modules. Each module will introduce you to a specific aspect of palliative medicine—from effective communication and symptom management to addressing goals of care and specific types of distress. You will learn tips and tools to help you screen for palliative needs and offer basic palliative care.

  • Module 1: Introduction to Palliative Care
  • Module 2: Communicating with Families and Patients
  • Module 3: Psychosocial Support
  • Module 4: Goals of Care
  • Module 5: Pain Assessment and Management
  • Module 6: Nausea and Fatigue Management
  • Module 7: Survivorship
  • Module 8: Spiritual Care
  • Module 9: Emotions and Coping
  • Module 10: Child and Family Guidance
  • Module 11: Hospice Care
  • Module 12: Self-Care and Reflection

Each module consists of five main sections: Reading and reflection, Scenes with Sarah Foster, Brief lecture, Caregiver Perspectives, and Interactive small group discussion

Office Hours

Each week, faculty will post a video that answers your questions and discusses current issues related to the week's topic. Questions may be submitted Wednesday through Sunday, and videos will be posted by Tuesday of the following week.

Weekly Discussion Sessions

Each module will close with a discussion session with a small group of your peers. The goal is to practice and reflect on the skills you’ve picked up during each module and learn from others in the course. Each discussion will last approximately 45 minutes. The platform we will use for online discussions is called Talkabout. In order to access Talkabout, you will need to make sure your computer is set up to use Google Hangout. Please follow the instructions here to load and join Talkabout.

If you prefer not to use Talkabout, you can complete these discussions in person or in another manner of your choice. In order to receive credit for these discussion sessions, you will need to submit a 100-word response that reflects on your experience. The free response is located in the "Talkabout Discussion" section of each module.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will this course offer CME or CEU credit?

A modified version of the course is being developed for CME / CEU credit. This version of the course is not the official CME version of the course.

How much time will I spend on this course each week?

It varies, as some of the modules contain more content than others. In general, you should expect to spend between 2 and 3 hours on Palliative Care Always each week. This accounts for brief readings, videos, assessment questions and interactive discussions.

Can I obtain a Statement of Accomplishment for this course?

Yes. To receive a "Statement of Accomplishment" for this course (i.e., a passing grade), you must receive a score of at least 75%.

Are there required assignments?

For those who are interested in a Statement of Accomplishment, grades include completion of Assessment questions throughout all 12 modules (50%), submission of reflection posts on the course discussion forum (25%), and participation in interactive discussion sessions (25%). Of course, you are welcome to do only the components of the course you are interested in, if the grade doesn't matter to you.

Does this course provide medical advice for patients?

The information contained in this course is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional guidance regarding medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Participants in this course should not provide unsupervised emergency medicine or department care unless they have completed all of the training, licensing and certification process required in their country. The information in this course is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.