Palliative Care in the ICU: Communication Skills in Practice

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

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

Contact Hours 1.25

CERP A 1.25

Expires May 01, 2025

Topics: COVID-19, Palliative/End-of-life Care, Communication, Family-Centered Care

Role: Staff

CE Fee
Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Webinar Summary

In this interactive case-based webinar, the presenters demonstrate the communication skills that critical care nurses employ when providing primary palliative care to seriously ill patients. Three conversations are described: between the nurse and the patient or family, between the nurse and the provider, and within a family conference. By applying specific strategies for eliciting another’s perspective, providing emotional support and giving information, nurses can navigate these conversations and facilitate clear communication about disease prognosis and patient goals of care.

Videos created by the IMPACT-ICU (Integrating Multidisciplinary Palliative Care into the ICU) team and distributed by the Vital Talk website provide a case example of nurse-led primary palliative care. Through written exercises, participants will identify challenges in communicating about serious illness, observations from the video case, and reflections on the skills that fit best with their practice.

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

Please note: This 75-minute session is prerecorded and includes reflection exercises. You will need to download and print an activity sheet and skills sheet (available within the activity) before watching. Have these sheets and a pen handy to make the most of this interactive session.  

Technical Requirements


  • Identify at least one palliative care communication tool to apply in practice
  • Compare and contrast the nurse’s role in communicating with patients and families and with providers about goals of care
  • Describe one or more strategies for overcoming the barriers to nurse participation in family conferences


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 1.25 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.

Refund Policy

Continuing Education Activities are nonrefundable.