Palliative Care Chaplain Specialty Certification Resources


In 2012, both the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) and the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) developed and implemented models for specialty certification in hospice and palliative care chaplaincy. Both organizations require prior board certification as a requirement of eligibility for specialty certification. See the resources below to learn more about chaplain specialty certification:

Currently there are no standardized training paths toward specialty certification. The following list is offered as a resource for chaplains seeking to prepare themselves for specialty certification. 


Journal Articles- Listed by chaplain competency area

Knowledge of Palliative Care

Institute of Medicine (2015). Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life. Committee on Approaching Death: Addressing Key End of Life Issues. National Academies Press, Mar(2015).

PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. (2105). Spirituality in Cancer Care (PDQ®): Health Professional Version. Source PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]: National Cancer Institute. (July)2002-2015.

Puchalski, C., Ferrell, B., Virani, R., Otis-Green, S., Baird, P., Bull, J., . . . Sulmasy, D. (2009). Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care: The Report of the Consensus Conference. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12(10), 885-904. doi:10.1089/jpm.2009.0142

Puchalski, C. M., Vitillo, R., Hull, S. K., & Reller, N. (2014). Improving the Spiritual Dimension of Whole Person Care: Reaching National and International Consensus. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 17(6), 642-656. doi:10.1089/jpm.2014.9427

Temel, J. S., Greer, J. A., Muzikansky, A., Gallagher, E. R., Admane, S., Jackson, V. A., . . . Lynch, T. J. (2010). Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine N Engl J Med, 363(8), 733-742. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1000678


Bernacki, R. E., & Block, S. D. (2014). Communication About Serious Illness Care Goals. JAMA Internal Medicine JAMA Intern Med, 174(12), 1994. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5271

Bernacki, R., Hutchings, M., Vick, J., Smith, G., Paladino, J., Lipsitz, S., . . . Block, S. D. (2015). Development of the Serious Illness Care Program: A randomised controlled trial of a palliative care communication intervention. BMJ Open, 5(10). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009032

Kelley, A. S., Back, A. L., Arnold, R. M., Goldberg, G. R., Lim, B. B., Litrivis, E., . . . O'neill, L. B. (2011). Geritalk: Communication Skills Training for Geriatric and Palliative Medicine Fellows. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society J Am Geriatr Soc, 60(2), 332-337. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03787.x

Markin, A., Cabrera-Fernandez, D. F., Bajoka, R. M., Noll, S. M., Drake, S. M., Awdish, R. L., . . . Mendez, M. P. (2015). Impact of a Simulation-Based Communication Workshop on Resident Preparedness for End-of-Life Communication in the Intensive Care Unit. Critical Care Research and Practice, 2015, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2015/534879

Counseling Skills

Breitbart, W., Rosenfeld, B., Pessin, H., Applebaum, A., Kulikowski, J., & Lichtenthal, W. G. (2015). Meaning-Centered Group Psychotherapy: An Effective Intervention for Improving Psychological Well-Being in Patients With Advanced Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 33(7), 749-754. doi:10.1200/jco.2014.57.2198

Malina, D., & Rosenbaum, L. (2016). Falling Together — Empathetic Care for the Dying. New England Journal of Medicine N Engl J Med, 374(6), 587-590. doi:10.1056/nejmms1516444

Sinclair, S., Mcclement, S., Raffin-Bouchal, S., Hack, T. F., Hagen, N. A., Mcconnell, S., & Chochinov, H. M. (2016). Compassion in Health Care: An Empirical Model. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 51(2), 193-203. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.10.009

Teamwork and Collaboration

Head, B. A., Schapmire, T., Hermann, C., Earnshaw, L., Faul, A., Jones, C., . . . Pfeifer, M. (2014). The Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Oncology Palliative Care Education (iCOPE): Meeting the Challenge of Interprofessional Education. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 17(10), 1107-1114. doi:10.1089/jpm.2014.0070

Powell, R. A., Emanuel, L., Handzo, G., Lantos, J., Dunn, L. B., Idler, E. L., . . . Sommer, D. (2015). Transcending differences to study the transcendent: An exploratory study of researchers’ and chaplains’ reflections on interdisciplinary spiritual care research collaboration. BMC Palliative Care BMC Palliat Care, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12904-015-0004-4

Spiritual Assessment and Documentation

Ernecoff, N. C., Curlin, F. A., Buddadhumaruk, P., & White, D. B. (2015). Health Care Professionals’ Responses to Religious or Spiritual Statements by Surrogate Decision Makers During Goals-of-Care Discussions. JAMA Internal Medicine JAMA Intern Med, 175(10), 1662. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4124

Phelps, A. C., Lauderdale, K. E., Alcorn, S., Dillinger, J., Balboni, M. T., Wert, M. V., . . . Balboni, T. A. (2012). Addressing Spirituality Within the Care of Patients at the End of Life: Perspectives of Patients With Advanced Cancer, Oncologists, and Oncology Nurses. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 30(20), 2538-2544. doi:10.1200/jco.2011.40.3766


Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services:

Downar, J. (2015). Is physician-assisted death in anyone's best interest? Yes. Canadian Family Physician. Apr;61(4):314-6, 320-2.

St Godard, E. (2015). Is physician-assisted death in anyone's best interest? No. Canadian Family Physician. Apr;61(4):316-8, 322-5. 

Quill, T. E. (2015). Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking (VSED), Physician-Assisted Death (PAD), or Neither in the Last Stage of Life? Both Should be Available as a Last Resort. The Annals of Family Medicine, 13(5), 408-409. doi:10.1370/afm.1850

Delivery of Care and Continuity of Care

Balboni, T., Balboni, M., Paulk, M. E., Phelps, A., Wright, A., Peteet, J., . . . Prigerson, H. (2011). Support of cancer patients' spiritual needs and associations with medical care costs at the end of life. Cancer, 117(23), 5383-5391. doi:10.1002/cncr.26221

Balboni, T. A., Balboni, M., Enzinger, A. C., Gallivan, K., Paulk, M. E., Wright, A., . . . Prigerson, H. G. (2013). Provision of Spiritual Support to Patients With Advanced Cancer by Religious Communities and Associations With Medical Care at the End of Life. JAMA Internal Medicine JAMA Intern Med, 173(12), 1109. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.903

Longo, D. L., Blinderman, C. D., & Billings, J. A. (2015). Comfort Care for Patients Dying in the Hospital. New England Journal of Medicine N Engl J Med, 373(26), 2549-2561. doi:10.1056/nejmra1411746

Teno, J. M., Gozalo, P. L., Mitchell, S. L., Kuo, S., Rhodes, R. L., Bynum, J. P., & Mor, V. (2012). Does Feeding Tube Insertion and Its Timing Improve Survival? Journal of the American Geriatrics Society J Am Geriatr Soc, 60(10), 1918-1921. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04148.x  

Cultural Competence, Inclusion, and Marginalized Populations

Barnato, A. E., Mohan, D., Downs, J., Bryce, C. L., Angus, D. C., & Arnold, R. M. (2011). A randomized trial of the effect of patient race on physiciansʼ intensive care unit and life-sustaining treatment decisions for an acutely unstable elder with end-stage cancer*. Critical Care Medicine, 39(7), 1663-1669. doi:10.1097/ccm.0b013e3182186e98

Elliott, A. M., Alexander, S. C., Mescher, C. A., Mohan, D., & Barnato, A. E. (2016). Differences in Physicians' Verbal and Nonverbal Communication With Black and White Patients at the End of Life. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 51(1), 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.07.008

Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Hoy-Ellis, C. P., Goldsen, J., Emlet, C. A., & Hooyman, N. R. (2014). Creating a Vision for the Future: Key Competencies and Strategies for Culturally Competent Practice With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Older Adults in the Health and Human Services. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 57(2-4), 80-107. doi:10.1080/01634372.2014.890690

Grossoehme, D. H., Teeters, A., Jelinek, S., Dimitriou, S. M., & Conard, L. A. (2016). Screening for Spiritual Struggle in an Adolescent Transgender Clinic: Feasibility and Acceptability. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 22(2), 54-66. doi:10.1080/08854726.2015.1123004

Care for the Palliative Care Interdisciplinary Team

Bodenheimer, T., & Sinsky, C. (2014). From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider. The Annals of Family Medicine, 12(6), 573-576. doi:10.1370/afm.1713

Hess, D. (2014). Narrative and palliative care team identity formation. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 1(2), 4–9.

Koven S. The doctor's new dilemma. (2016). New England Journal of Medicine. Feb 18;374(7):608-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1513708.

Meier, D. E. (2001). The Inner Life of Physicians and Care of the Seriously Ill. Jama, 286(23), 3007. doi:10.1001/jama.286.23.3007

Raab, K. (2014). Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Empathy Among Health Care Professionals: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 20(3), 95-108. doi:10.1080/08854726.2014.913876

Sinclair, S., Raffin, S., Pereira, J., & Guebert, N. (2006). Collective soul: The spirituality of an interdisciplinary palliative care team. Palliative & Supportive Care PAX, 4(01). doi:10.1017/s1478951506060032

Continuous Quality Improvement and Research within Palliative Care

Gramling, R. (2016). Introduction to the Special Series on Measuring What Matters. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 51(2), 149. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.12.306

Kestenbaum, A., James, J., Morgan, S., Shields, M., Hocker, W., Rabow, M., & Dunn, L. B. (2015). “Taking your place at the table:” An autoethnographic study of chaplains’ participation on an interdisciplinary research team. BMC Palliative Care BMC Palliat Care, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12904-015-0006-2

Williams, J. A., Meltzer, D., Arora, V., Chung, G., & Curlin, F. A. (2011). Attention to Inpatients’ Religious and Spiritual Concerns: Predictors and Association with Patient Satisfaction. J GEN INTERN MED Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(11), 1265-1271. doi:10.1007/s11606-011-1781-y

Jankowski, K. R., Handzo, G. F., & Flannelly, K. J. (2011). Testing the Efficacy of Chaplaincy Care. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 17(3-4), 100-125. doi:10.1080/08854726.2011.616166

Mentoring and Teaching

Grossoehme, D. (2014). Overview of qualitative research. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 20(3):109-22. doi: 10.1080/08854726.2014.925660.

Grossoehme, D. H. (2013). Chaplaincy and Narrative Theory: A Response to Risk's Case Study. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 19(3), 99-111. doi:10.1080/08854726.2013.806119

Risk, J. L. (2013). Building a New Life: A Chaplain's Theory Based Case Study of Chronic Illness. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 19(3), 81-98. doi:10.1080/08854726.2013.806117

Case based research

Fitchett, G. (2011). Making Our Case(s). Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 17(1-2), 3-18. doi:10.1080/08854726.2011.559829

Mccurdy, D. B., & Fitchett, G. (2011). Ethical Issues in Case Study Publication: “Making Our Case(s)” Ethically. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 17(1-2), 55-74. doi:10.1080/08854726.2011.559855

Supportive Care Coalition