Palliative Care in the ICU: A 360° View of the Nurse’s Role

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

Critical care nurses often develop insight into family and patient perspectives on illness and, at the same time, they understand the healthcare team’s view of disease and its treatment. While this unique position is ideal for applying palliative care to the management of seriously ill patients, uncertainty about scope of practice can limit nurses' participation in conversations about goals of care and disease prognosis. 

Extending their work as leaders in IMPACT-ICU (Integrating Multidisciplinary Palliative Care into the ICU), the presenters provide a comprehensive description of the central role of nurses in providing primary palliative care.  Using videos available on the VitalTalk website, the nurse, physician and patient perspectives on nursing scope of practice are explored. The presentation also demonstrates how palliative care skills support AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments. 

This is Part 2 of a special three-part AACN series. Click to view Part 1 and Part 3.

Please note: This session is prerecorded and includes reflection exercises. You will need to download and print an activity sheet (available within the activity) before watching. Be sure to have pen, activity sheet or blank paper handy to maximize your learning.


  • Identify a strategy to address the barriers that commonly affect nurse engagement in palliative care discussions
  • Describe how palliative care in the management of seriously ill patients supports AACN Standards for a Healthy Work Environment
  • Examine the impact of nurse-led palliative care on a patient and family you cared for


Wendy Anderson, MD, MS

Wendy Anderson, MD, MS

Wendy Anderson is a palliative care physician and associate professor in the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Her work focuses on serious illness communication training and disseminating best practices. She is principal investigator for the IMPACT-ICU project, which integrates palliative care into the ICU by training and supporting bedside nurses. She also directs the San Francisco Bay Area Hub for VitalTalk, a nonprofit that teaches serious illness communication.

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 critical care and palliative care resource nurse and a faculty member of the IMPACT-ICU project, providing communication skills training, reflective practice and clinical decision support for critical care nurses. Turner has presented at national events, including AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition, to empower nurses with palliative care skills.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

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


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider number CEP 1036, for 1.00 contact hours.

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing education only and does not imply AACN, ANCC, or CBRN approval or endorsement of any commercial products discussed or displayed in conjunction with this educational activity.


Any relevant relationship between an ineligible company and an individual with the ability to influence clinical content will be identified by the Nurse Planner within the activity. Any relevant relationship between an ineligible company and an individual with the ability to influence clinical content has been mitigated.

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.

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