Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Advanced Palliative Care Nursing Externship

APRNs are part of the solution for access to palliative care in health care reform. However, many APRNs have not had clinical training in palliative care. The goal of this project is to provide palliative education to APRNs to have them bring palliative care to their community. The course includes pain and symptom management in clinical practice, communication building, quality, program development and professional development. 

Constance Dahlin, ANP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN and Patrick Coyne MSN, ACHPN, FAAN, FPCN received funding in 2014 to create this externship. It is a week-long mentored immersion course with national faculty in a well-recognized palliative care program. It is targeted for novice Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) or APRNs new to palliative care. This externship focuses on adult patients and their families.

To date, there have been 48 externs from all over the country. Since the Externship is grant funded, there are no current planned cohorts. We will announce further grant funding for participants to attend courses. However, we have a grant to extend the ARPN Palliative Care Externship to other sites. See below for details.  

View frequently asked questions (FAQs)

View logistical information for participants

Call for Proposal to Become an APRN Palliative Care Externship Site

Do you have APRNs who can offer leadership and mentoring in primary palliative nursing? Are you interested in participating in educating mid-career APRNs to provide primary palliative care? Is your organization interested in becoming an APRN Palliative Care Externship Site?

VCU Massey Cancer Center launched the APRN Palliative Care Externship in 2013 to teach rural and community advanced practice registered nurses primary palliative care. Through didactic and clinical training, APRNs receive mentoring in palliative care role development and refine their palliative care skills. They are then able to deepen their practice and improve the care of seriously ill patients in their communities. We are looking to expand the externship to develop a sustainable education model for APRNs across the country and provide specialized education for APRNs.

Organizations designated as APRN Palliative Care Externship sites are expected to:

  1. Use APRN leaders to run the initiative and serve as on site faculty directors
  2. Educate and train APRNs how to integrate palliative care into their practice
  3. Focus externship on rural and community APRNs who are without access to palliative care education
  4. Demonstrate the provision of collaborative interdisciplinary care
  5. Utilize VCU Massey Cancer Center APRN Palliative Care Externship methods and modules developed by Patrick Coyne, CNS-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN and Constance Dahlin, ANP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN
  6. Sign a Letter of Agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities above
  7. Complete a Letter of Institutional Support

Click here to be directed to the application

For questions, contact Patrick Coyne and Connie Dahlin c/o C.J. James at