Palliative Care in the ICU: Critical Communication Skills

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

Presenter(s): Wendy Anderson, MD, MS; Kathleen Turner, RN, CHPN, CCRN-CMC

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Webinar Summary

Palliative care is a unique approach to meeting the needs of seriously ill patients that emphasizes symptom management, psychosocial support and skilled communication; areas that are also addressed in holistic nursing care. By building on their existing communication skills, critical care nurses can provide primary palliative care to assist patients and families in navigating complex disease processes and support the healthcare team’s understanding of patient and family goals of care.

In this webinar, Anderson and Turner will describe both primary and specialty palliative care and resources that critical care nurses can apply in adopting this approach. The process of enhancing communication between the healthcare team and the families of critically ill patients is discussed, and specific strategies are identified. This webinar will be 45 minutes to allow for a question-and-answer session with the presenters.


  • Define the role of the bedside nurse in providing primary palliative care.
  • Identify interventions and resources that apply to the provision of palliative care in ICU settings.
  • Describe strategies for communicating with families and physicians about prognosis and goals of care.


Wendy Anderson, MD, MS

Wendy Anderson, MD, MS

Wendy Anderson is associate professor of medicine In residence in the (University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Division of Hospital Medicine and Palliative Care Program. She leads a program of research, education, and quality improvement with the goal of improving care for seriously ill hospitalized patients. Her recent work with the IMPACT-ICU: Integrating Multidisciplinary Palliative Care in the ICU project has been disseminated across all five University of California medical centers.

Kathleen Turner, RN, CHPN, CCRN-CMC

Kathleen Turner, RN, CHPN, CCRN-CMC

Kathleen Turner is a clinical nurse in the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit at UCSF Medical Center. She is a faculty member of the IMPACT-ICU project, providing communication skills training, reflective practice and clinical decision support for critical care nurses. Turner also teaches on end-of-life issues for the Critical Care and Palliative Care Resource Nurse training programs at UCSF.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. Approval of a continuing education activity does not imply endorsement by AACN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with the activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012 (60 min contact hour). AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing, California Provider number CEP01036 for 0.9 contact hours (50 min contact hour).

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