Teaching: Timing – Part 2 – When to teach Essentials HPC content in your curriculum?

Teaching: Timing – Part 2 – When to teach Essentials HPC content in your curriculum?

Life & Death Matters Post

As we said last time, you need to plan time for teaching the Essentials module in your program. But is there a “best” time to teach this module? Is early better than later?

In contrast to our recommendation to give students the materials early on, we have learned from ourselves and other instructors that there are distinct advantages to teaching the Essentials HPC content near the end of the teaching program. There are disadvantages as well, but we’re certain that they are easily managed.

I’ve summarized the pros and cons of teaching the HPC content later in the program in the table below, in the hopes that it will assist you in determining when it is best for your program to introduce the Essentials materials.



Build on previous material:Saving the hospice palliative care philosophy until the end allows the instructor to build on all the other material that has already been taught.Students may not realize that a palliative approach can be integrated in care early in the disease process.

Instructors to emphasize that a palliative approach can be applied early in disease process.

Build on previous concepts:Students can identify the principles of hospice palliative care that build on concepts they have learned in other modules eg. principles of dementia care, person centered care.No opportunity for reflection:Students will not have time to reflect on the relationships between different focuses of care (e.g. chronic disease management, dementia care, and hospice palliative care)

Instructors can build in time and exercises to reflect on these relationships.


Present as a Module that pulls everything together:Instructors can introduce the materials with a special view to making this a great final experience.
Students might be anxious about the practicum and it might be a very difficult time to offer such intense material.

Instructors can acknowledge this content may feel intense and allow discussion of issues that arise.

Current instructors have agreed with us, that offering the hospice palliative care module near the end of the program makes the most sense, following the module about ongoing conditions. Offering a more concrete subject such as “medications” as the final unit, may provide the emotional space to address the anxiety of moving into practicum the following week.

I hope this helps you to prepare your teaching plan.

In the next series of posts I will introduce the Study Guide, Baggage and Beliefs and the value of reflective writing.

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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