Your Guide to Palliative Care Nursing

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Palliative care nursing is a unique nursing specialty in which nurses care for patients with severe, often life-threatening conditions. They provide comfort and support to patients and families, either in an outpatient setting or an inpatient hospice facility. To enter palliative nursing, you’ll need a BSN and an RN license.

nurse holding pill bottle with patient

A nursing career offers countless opportunities. You can enter fields ranging from flight nursing to acute care nursing to nurse-midwifery. One specialty to consider is palliative care nursing. Palliative care nurses focus on caring for patients with severe and often terminal conditions and embody the traits of compassion, attentiveness and resilience.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from the 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at CSP Global, you’ll be ready to begin your career in palliative care nursing. Read on to learn about palliative care nursing and the skills successful palliative care nurses share.

What Is Palliative Nursing Care?

Palliative nurses treat patients with serious and often life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, heart failure or dementia. Patients in palliative care receive extra resources and support that help them navigate their challenging health diagnoses.

During palliative care, patients receive comfort care and pain management. They may also receive treatment for their condition. For example, patients with cancer may still receive chemotherapy treatment during palliative care.

Patients receiving palliative care may transition to hospice care, which is comfort care without treatment. If a patient enters hospice care, treatment options are no longer available, and death is likely to come in the next few months.

What Do Palliative Care Nurses Do?

Palliative nurses work in a variety of settings. Their primary role is to provide support, comfort and treatment for patients who are struggling with severe illness. They work in patients’ homes, hospitals, nursing homes or hospice facilities.

nurse sitting and talking with patient and her family

What Education Do You Need to Enter Palliative Nursing?

To become a palliative care nurse, you need to be a registered nurse (RN), preferably with a BSN. Once you’ve gained experience in the field of palliative care nursing, you can choose to earn a specialty certification from the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center, which can give you professional recognition for your expertise.

Earning Your BSN at CSP Global

If palliative nursing is your goal, the first step is earning your BSN from an accredited nursing program like our ABSN program at CSP Global. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon, our ABSN program allows students with at least 54 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to graduate with a BSN in as few as 16 months.

The ABSN program consists of four semesters of online nursing coursework, skills labs and clinical learning experiences. The comprehensive, full-time program will prepare you for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which you’ll need to pass to receive your nursing (RN) license.

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5 Skills and Qualities of Palliative Care Nurses

Do you have what it takes to enter palliative care nursing? Here are five skills and qualities of effective palliative nurses. If you haven’t yet mastered these skills, you can improve and develop them in the ABSN program.

1. Compassion

Because palliative care nurses work with patients with complex diagnoses, they must care for patients with kindness and compassion. Palliative care is a specialty in which you’ll always need to remember the person behind the patient. Work to recognize and understand the patient’s feelings and emotions as they walk through their difficult journey. Your patients may deal with grief, anger, fear, doubt and hope, and it’s your job to care for them through all of it. Palliative care nurses are the epitome of compassion.

woman sitting at desk thinking

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2. Friendliness and Ability to Listen

Palliative care nurses are also friendly and know how to listen. Patients may have family around often while receiving palliative care, or they may be alone for many hours a day. All your patients will appreciate when you take time to converse with them and listen to them, but that will be especially true for those without family. Patients should not feel lonely when confronted with a life-threatening condition. The best nurses make sure their patients feel heard and important.

3. Attentiveness

Palliative care nurses need to be attentive to their patients’ needs as well as any status changes in their health or symptoms. Hospitals and hospice care facilities contact the patient’s family if the patient takes a turn for the worse and death is imminent. Giving the patient those final moments with their loved one provides peace and closure in an otherwise tragic situation. Therefore, palliative care nurses are well-trained to notice small changes in their patients’ status and symptoms.

4. Positivity

In what can be a sad and challenging time for patients and families, good palliative care nurses bring a little bit of joy and happiness to their patients’ lives. While manufactured positivity is unhelpful, genuine joy can be contagious and improve a patient’s mood.

CSP nursing student standing outside

5. Resilience

Palliative care nursing is difficult work. You will form close connections with patients who may ultimately pass away from their health conditions, and you will need to learn how to process and heal from those losses. Palliative nurses have a great deal of resilience in the face of difficult loss, and they know to lean on their family and loved ones for support when they’re grieving.

Career Outlook for Palliative Nursing

The palliative care industry has been on the rise in recent years, growing from a $49.4 billion market in 2018 to a $78.5 billion market in 2023. This rapid growth is accompanied by a greater demand for nurses specializing in palliative care.

According to, as of February 2023, palliative care nurses earn an average of $91,532 annually. This means you can count on a stable job and a competitive salary that will make your BSN worth it.

CSP ABSN student standing outside

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Begin Your Journey with CSP Global

Ready to see what life as a registered nurse can bring? Start your nursing journey through the ABSN program at CSP Global. Whether you want to be a palliative care nurse, a pediatric nurse or a flight nurse, this program will give you the foundation you need to begin your nursing career.

To learn more about the CSP Global 16-month Accelerated BSN program, contact our admissions counselors today.