Advance Care Planning for Primary Care Practitioners—
Online, Self-Paced Certificate




The End-of-Life Care Program’s Advance Care Planning Certificate is not accepting registrants at this time. 

Certificate Program

Advance Care Planning (ACP) is an important component of patient-centered care. In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made Advance Care Planning an optional service that patients could request of their health care practitioners. Now, physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants can be reimbursed for meeting this vital need. Advance Care Planning for Primary Care Practitioners, a certificate offered by the Sarah Lawrence College End-of-Life Care Program, gives physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other non-medical health care providers the tools needed to conduct Advance Care Planning conversations.

Advance Care Planning for Primary Care Practitioners is a three course, online, self-paced certificate program granting four hour Continuing Medical Education (CME), Nurse CE, and non-medical professional CE credits through joint providership with National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Course 1: Foundations of Advance Care Planning (1.5 CMEs/CEs)

This course will enable you to identify the ways you can support patient autonomy and provide quality care by engaging patients in the Advance Care Planning process. Participants receive access to Advance Care Planning forms for all states.

In this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the benefits, rights, and responsibilities for patients and providers engaging in Advance Care Planning
  • Determine the function, advantages, and components of Advance Directives
  • Indicate the steps to prepare your office to hold these conversations
  • Distinguish between the realities and myths of Advance Care Planning

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Course 2: The Advance Care Planning Conversation (1.5 CMEs/CEs)

In this course, we continue building our knowledge of Advance Care Planning. We explore how patients’ changing health determines when and how we talk about Advance Care Planning. The course gives participants an opportunity to learn about Advance Care Planning conversations and how you can make them effective in our own practice. The course reviews key provider skills, including active listening and responding with empathic statements, which are vital to successful discussions with patients. By the end of the course, participants will have a solid foundation of when and how to hold Advance Care Planning conversations.

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Determine the relationship between a patient’s health condition and the appropriate Advance Care Planning conversation
  • Apply the Health-Illness Continuum construct in successfully shaping the Advance Care Planning conversation with a patient
  • Discover how the Advance Care Planning conversation changes as a patient’s health and condition(s) evolve over time.
  • Infer how a patient’s goals, values, and beliefs guide the Advance Care Planning process
  • Analyze scenarios to determine the appropriate communication techniques for conducting Advance Care Planning conversations across the Health-Illness Continuum

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Course 3: Complexities of Advance Care Planning (1 CME/CE)

This course covers a range of topics that impact Advance Care Planning. Participants will start by looking at how bias and systemic issues impact the success of Advance Care Planning. Then, we will explore how our patients are part of a family unit that impacts their Advance Care Planning conversations and choices. Finally, we will discuss some of the basic nuances of a patient’s capacity and their ability to complete the Advance Care Planning process.

In this course, participants will be able to:

  • Determine what health disparities impact patient quality Advance Care Planning and how to remedy the specific challenges in your practice
  • Select what advantages of family involvement and considering cultural norms have on Advance Care Planning conversations
  • Identify how capacity impacts Advance Care Planning conversations and best practices for working with these patients

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Technical Requirements

One of the requirements of taking these courses is a fast, stable internet connection. The course contains audio, video, and images to help communicate the content. With this in mind, slower internet connections might lag or freeze when taking the course. We recommend using an updated browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge. Please use a computer rather than a mobile device for the best experience. These courses should be taken on a computer less than six years old when possible.

Access a program demo

Cost & Certification

The certificate fee is $1,000 for all three courses. Courses 1 through 3 can be taken sequentially as individual courses at a cost of $375 per course.

After completion at the certificate level, you will be ready to start having Advance Care Planning conversations with your patients. Through your hard work, you can help ensure that they have autonomy, comfort, and quality care; dignity in health care at every age and stage of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning (ACP) is the whole process of discussion of end-of-life care, clarification of related values and goals, and embodiment of preferences through written documents and medical orders. This process can start at any time and be revisited periodically, but it becomes more focused as health status changes. Ideally, these conversations:

  1. Occur with a person’s health care agent and primary clinician, along with other members of the clinical team;
  2. Are recorded and updated as needed; and
  3. Allow for flexible decision making in the context of the patient’s current medical situation.

Patient wishes are typically recorded and witnessed on state-approved documents called Advance Directives and Living Wills.

Advance Directives

A general term that describes two kinds of legal documents—living wills and health care proxy forms. These documents allow a person to give instructions about future medical care should they be unable to participate in medical decisions due to serious illness or incapacity. Each state regulates the use of Advance Directives differently.

Living Will

The part of an Advance Directive in which an individual documents his or her wishes about medical treatment should he or she be at the end of life and unable to communicate. It may also be called a directive to physicians, health care declaration, or medical directive. Each state provides Living Wills that meet their regulations.

Dying in America

Dying in America, issued in 2014 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is the consensus of a committee of experts about end-of-life care. Their findings include increasing the availability of Advance Care Planning and their recommendation to create payment systems for Advance Care Planning resulted in implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Medicare B benefit for patients seeking voluntary Advance Care Planning conversations.