Course Overview

The Master/Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences (Palliative Care) is designed for registered nurses who wish to pursue a specialism in Palliative Care Nursing. The programme aims to support students in developing as knowledgeable, caring practitioners who can effecting positive transitions for patients from curative approaches in healing to comfort measures in caring at end of life.

The programme is offered full-time over two academic years. On completion of the six modules in year one students have the option of being awarded a Postgraduate Diploma or (if they have achieved the minimum 60% average mark across these modules) may progress onto the next year to complete the Master in Health Sciences (Palliative Care).

It consists of both theoretical and clinical components. A blended learning approach is adopted in the delivery of this programme. Students are required to attend face to face workshops for a total of 12 days across the programme. Students must be working clinically with people at end of life to be considered for this programme. All students must complete a number of weeks in specialist palliative care before completing this programme. 

SPECIAL FEATURES

The course has a clinical focus, offering opportunities to develop specialist skills. The programme is offered through a blended learning format—a combination of online and face-to-face learning and teaching. Blended learning is an innovative and flexible approach to learning, making it possible to combine working full-time with studying. This course is approved by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

See full staff list here.

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

All applicants must meet the following entry requirements:

  1. Be registered on the general, children’s, mental health or learning disability division of the Nurse’s register maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI);
  2. Have a minimum of one year’s post-registration experience (exclusive of post-registration courses);
  3. Be currently working in the required specialist area, i.e., palliative care/with people at end of life, and have, as a minimum, six months’ clinical experience in this specialist area;
  4. All students must complete additional clinical hours in a palliative care setting. The length of placement depends on the learning opportunities available to students in their current work setting;
  5. Have an honours bachelor’s degree at NFQ Level 8 in nursing or a comparable qualification. Applicants who do not hold an honours degree or Higher Diploma (Level 8) must demonstrate that they have successfully completed (in the previous two years) a module at Level 9. Please consult the professional credit awards at Level 9 at: www.nuigalway.ie/pca/pca.html;
  6. Candidates registered on the Mental Health or Learning Disability division of the NMBI register must complete additional clinical hours in a palliative care setting. This requirement may apply to registered general or children’s nurses depending on the learning opportunities available to them in their work setting.

Top-up 

Applicants who have completed a specialist nursing PDip and who have attained at least 60%  in their final mark are eligible to apply for year two of our specialist masters programmes via the link below.  Please contact the programme leader directly to discuss your eligibility (additional requirements may apply).


Additional Requirements

Duration

Two years full-time (option to leave with PDip after one year)

Next start date

September 2019

A Level Grades ()

Average intake

15

Closing Date

Please see the review/closing dates website for further information.

NFQ level

Mode of study

Blended learning and workshops.

ECTS weighting

90

Award

CAO

Course code

1MDL1—full-time
1MDL3—top-up

Course Outline

Students will complete three core and three specialist modules in the first year (60 ECTS). Eligible students will then complete a research dissertation (30 ECTS) in the second year. 

Modules

  • Service Improvement (10 credits—core) 
  • Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice (10 credits—core) 
  • Advanced Research Methods (10 credits—core) 
  • Clinical Assessment 1 
  • Clinical Assessment 2 
  • Palliative Approaches to Symptom Management (10 credits—specialist)
  • Care of the Child and Family with Palliative / Complex Needs (10 credits—specialist)
  • End of Life Care: Psychological & Social Perspectives (10 credits—specialist)

Module details for the full time course

Module details for the top up course

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

Credits
You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
Module
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Optional
A module you may choose to study.
Required
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Semester
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (60 Credits)

Required NU6439: Service Improvement


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module will allow the student the opportunity to plan and implement, with their manager, and an academic facilitator, a service improvement initiative. The project will focus on an issue of relevance to client care or service improvement and must be supported by the student’s line manager and/or clinical facilitator. Examples of the types of projects include: completion of a defined literature review supporting some aspect of unit work, preparation of a patient education leaflet (supported by an evidence based rationale presented separately), development of a patient education pack (supported by an evidence based rationale presented separately), development of a strategy to reduce waiting time, an initiative that will improve patient/staff safety, development/implementation of guidelines/policies, an initiative that improves the quality of patient services or the work environment, an initiative that saves time/money or any issue/problem/change that can be addressed through action. This work must be completed within a calendar year.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Critically examine a practice issue and contribute to service improvement
  2. Integrate and apply learning from other modules
  3. Work collaboratively with peers and clients
  4. Become an autonomous and independent learner
  5. Develop the skills and knowledge needed to implement a change in clinical practice
  6. Develop their skills of analysis, critical thinking, problem-solving and reflection
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU6439: "Service Improvement" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU623: Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

Errors are inevitable in healthcare systems (Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance, 2008). It is estimated that medical errors would rank 5 in the top 10 causes of death in the United States, ahead of accidents, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, if included on the National Centre for Health Statistics’ list (Joint Commission, 2005 p.7). In Ireland, the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (2008) acknowledge that healthcare will never be risk free but argue that it is critical that the systems in place are as safe as possible, that the right ‘checks and balances’ are in place and that learning results from mistakes. To ensure this happens it is important that programmes prepare nurses to promote and enhance clinical safety. The module is guided by the National Patient Safety Framework (The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2005) and the WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Guide for Medical Schools (World Health Organisation, 2009).
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Critique the concepts of ‘safety’ and ‘risk’ in context of their practice setting.
  2. Examine the concept of ‘clinical governance’ in the Irish healthcare system
  3. Identify and evaluate the factors that determine the quality and safety of healthcare from the perspective of (i) the nurse or midwife (ii) the client (iii) the multidisciplinary team and (iv) the wider healthcare system
  4. Identify local policies and procedures to improve clinical safety and apply safety principles in practice.
  5. Debate the tensions between ‘managing risk’ and ‘client autonomy
  6. Explore their role in promoting and enhancing safety as a member of the multidisciplinary team
  7. Complete a risk assessment relevant to their practice setting.
  8. Evaluate their contribution to quality improvement in their practice setting
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU623: "Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU6444: Care of the Child & Family with Palliative / Complex needs


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

Although death in childhood is relatively uncommon, the specific care needs of the child and family require a reflective, family centred and evidence-based approach to practice (Goldman, Hain and Liben, 2006). The recent recommendations within the Irish Policy for Children with Life Limiting illness (DoH&C 2010) encourages further professional development for nurses caring for these children and families. This module aims to assist nurses to explore this approach to palliative care practice with an emphasis on providing an overview and understanding for adult-orientated palliative care practitioners.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. • Articulate a conceptual framework for practice which sees child and family as the unit of care
  2. • Demonstrate a contextual understanding of child development in relation to life-limiting illness and its consequences
  3. • Develop strategies for advanced communication skills to support the child and family in need
  4. • Identify and respond to issues of grief and loss in a family context
  5. • Critically appraise the policy dimension of care for children at end-of-life
  6. • Explain the value of multi-agency support in the care of the child and family with life-limiting illness
  7. •Explore the principles regarding the breaking of bad news and identify strategies which support best practice in breaking bad news
  8. •Explore key theories of bereavement and loss in contemporary society
  9. •Recognise the influence of social structure and culture on grief responses
  10. •Articulate the nature of grief work and the role of the palliative care practitioners in supporting families in grief and loss
  11. •Identify the key components of complicated grief and the appropriate palliative care response
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU6444: "Care of the Child & Family with Palliative / Complex needs" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU921: Clinical Competence 1


Semester 1 | Credits: 0

Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU921: "Clinical Competence 1" and is valid from 2014 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU150: Palliative Approaches to Symptom Management


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module focuses on developing in depth comprehension of the philosophy of palliative care and the application of key concepts in relation to the assessment and management of symptoms. A repertoire of knowledge, skills and sensitivities is required in the management of pain and other symptoms (WHO, 1990). The aim of this module is to enhance students’ understanding and knowledge of the philosophy, principles and practice of pain and symptom management in caring for individuals with life limiting illness (Doyle et al. 2005). It aims to develop knowledge and skills in assessing, diagnosing, planning, intervening and evaluating evidence – based theories, related research findings and principles of pain and symptom management. This module is composed of five units.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. • Define palliative care and describe the principles which guide practice within the multidisciplinary team.
  2. • Integrate knowledge of the pathophysiology of end of life disease processes and their effects to the care of people with life threatening illness.
  3. • Apply the principles of impeccable assessment and early identification of the cause and impact of pain and other distressing symptoms.
  4. • Use evidence based tools and related theories of pain and symptom management to guide practice, arrive at clinical decisions and manage symptoms effectively.
  5. • Critically analyse the importance of providing individual care tailored to meet and respect the needs of the patient and their family.
  6. • Actively contribute to the multidisciplinary team’s clinical decision making regarding the choice of appropriate, evidence-based treatment in order to manage symptoms within a palliative care context.
  7. • Using the holistic palliative care philosophy, integrate analysis of psychological, social, spiritual and physiological factors in assessing, planning and intervening the relief of symptoms associated.
  8. • Employ both traditional and innovative interventions and other non-pharmacological therapies, appropriately in the care of people with life threatening illness and their families.
  9. • Disseminate evidence based knowledge to other colleagues and peers.
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU150: "Palliative Approaches to Symptom Management" and is valid from 2015 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU502: Advanced Research Methods


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module focuses on developing further students understanding of the theoretical foundations of research, research methodologies and methods of data collection. The module has two major goals. Firstly, to provide students with the required knowledge and skills to interpret and implement research findings in their practice and secondly, to prepare students to undertake a piece of research. Students will be given an opportunity to recap on methodological approaches to quantitative and qualitative research. A key skill in promoting students independence is preparing students to complete their own research project under the supervision of a supervisor. Therefore, this module has a specific focus on providing students with the knowledge and skills of “doing” research.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate that they have an understanding of what ‘evidence’ is and how to ssystematically search for evidence
  2. Discuss theoretical perspectives on research methodology
  3. Explain clearly the origins, underpinning philosophical assumptions, key characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies
  4. Articulate a research problem and formulate a research question or hypothesis as appropriate to guide the conduct of the study
  5. Justify the use of appropriate data collection, sampling, and data analysis methods for qualitative and quantitative research
  6. Create a plan with clear rationales for data collection, sampling, data analysis and rigour to be used when conducting a qualitative or quantitative study
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU502: "Advanced Research Methods" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU922: Clinical Competence 2


Semester 2 | Credits: 0

Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU922: "Clinical Competence 2" and is valid from 2014 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required NU566: End of Life Care: Psychological & Social Perspectives


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This blended learning module will address the impact of nursing care on the needs of patients, carers and staff in the face of impending death. Psychosocial and spiritual concerns are nearly universal among patients who are conscious as they near the end of life (Balboni et al. 2010). Understanding these issues and the ways in which they interact with physical distress is essential to assessment and management in end of life care. The content of this module is focused towards the learning needs of those you undertaking the specialist palliative care programme, but addresses generic concepts which are meaningful to a range of care settings. It will explore the ethical debate and moral issues that are faced in daily practice and address the context of bereavement and loss through an understanding of the needs of special groups such as marginalised peoples and those with profound debility (mental health and intellectual disability). There will also be a focus on skills in therapeutic communication at a personal and professional level. It will examine anticipatory, uncomplicated and complicated reactions to grief and loss as these are important grief reactions (Walsh et al. 2008). It will demonstrate and critically reflect on practice skills in communication and counselling appropriate to the needs of the person facing life limiting illness, death and bereavement and analyse the impact of communication strategies on patient and professional relationships in palliative nursing practice.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. • Explore the concept of Social Exclusion
  2. • Critically appraise the meaning of marginalization and discuss the palliative care response to effective care for marginalised groups
  3. • Consider the specific palliative care needs of marginalised groups and develop strategies to address the palliative care needs of those groups in the context of best practice
  4. Principles of ethical-decision making in palliative care
  5. • Explore the arguments for and against Euthanasia
  6. • Explore the complexities of advanced care planning
  7. • Consider the palliative care response to clinical decision-making with regard to artificial nutrition and hydration and sedation at the end-of-life
  8. • Explore the principles regarding the breaking of bad news and identify strategies which support best practice in breaking bad news
  9. • Critically appraise the importance of psychological mechanisms to protect against uncontrollable events such as death and dying
  10. • Identify communication strategies to recognise and respond to denial and collusion.
  11. • Demonstrate understanding of the palliative care response to expressions of anger in patient and families.
  12. • Explore key theories of bereavement and loss in contemporary society
  13. • Recognise the influence of social structure and culture on grief responses
  14. • Articulate the nature of grief work and the role of the palliative care practitioners in supporting families in grief and loss
  15. • Identify the key components of complicated grief and the appropriate palliative care response
  16. • Explore the role of the palliative care practitioner as death approaches and in the immediate post-death period
  17. • Explore the spiritual dimension of care which underpins the palliative care approach
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU566: "End of Life Care: Psychological & Social Perspectives" and is valid from 2015 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Year 2 (30 Credits)

Required NU6515: Research Dissertation


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 30

Students will be required to undertake a piece of primary research on a topic of relevance to their specialism. Students will be assigned a research supervisor who will support them in undertaking this work
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Developed a research question of significance to their specialist nursing practice.
  2. Identify the appropriate methodology to suit the research question and/or hypothesis
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of ethical requirements within the study
  4. Demonstrate the ability to review and analyse relevant literature
  5. Identify the most appropriate method for data collection to answer the research question
  6. Demonstrate the ability to draw a significant and meaningful conclusion from the data analysis
  7. Prepare a scholarly report, which will demonstrate accurate expression, analysis and synthesis of ideas
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module NU6515: "Research Dissertation" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates have found employment and promotion opportunities nationally and internationally.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

 

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,500 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Tuition

€6,276 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Non EU

€14,750 p.a. 2018/19

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