Palliative Nursing Summit

Leaders of 26 nursing organizations met in Washington, D.C. to develop a collaborative agenda and action plan for primary palliative nursing. The summit was convened by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) on May 12, 2017 under the theme, “Nurses Leading Change and Transforming Palliative Care.” The objective of the summit was to create a collaborative national agenda for primary palliative nursing. The ultimate goal is to ensure that patients with a serious illness and their families have access to primary palliative nursing care whenever and wherever they need it.

The Time is Right for Nursing to Lead

There are more than 3.6 million nurses in the United States. Individually and collectively, we make significant contributions daily to improve both the health of individuals and the healthcare of our country. Access to quality health care continues to be a national agenda priority, especially for people with a chronic serious illness and their families.

National initiatives, including those listed in the resources below, have helped to set the stage by identifying significant opportunities to enhance our care delivery models and systems. In one such initiative, HPNA and the American Nurses Association (ANA) worked collaboratively on a Professional Issues Panel on palliative and hospice nursing. The panel developed Call for Action: Nurses Lead and Transform Palliative Care, which was released in early April of 2017.

The time is right for the nursing community to create a collaborative agenda to focus on how nurses lead and transform care for individuals and their families who are facing serious illness.

A Collaborative Agenda Will Drive Action

Nurses across most nursing specialties incorporate basic elements of primary palliative care into their practice. Nursing has a unique opportunity to work collectively, to develop a shared framework and consensus agenda to the integration of primary palliative care across all nursing specialties.

The Palliative Nursing Summit focused on three aspects of primary palliative care:

  • Communication and advance care planning. The facilitation of advance care planning discussions is inherent in palliative nursing practice, through which nurses advocate for patients, support self-determination, and integrate patient and family values into the plan of care.
  • Coordination/transition of care. The deliberate organization of patient care activities to facilitate the appropriate delivery and transition of health care services across disciplines and settings.
  • Pain and symptom management.  Prevention and treatment of pain and symptoms of disease, including side effects of treatment and psychological, social, and spiritual care related to a disease or its treatment.
The summit participants worked in small groups led by a nursing content expert in each of the three focus areas. These national nursing experts included Mi-Kyung Song, PhD, RN, FAAN (communication/advance care planning), Gerri Lamb, PhD, RN, FAAN (coordination/transitions of care), and Judith Paice, PhD, RN (pain and symptom management). The work and findings of the summit were disseminated through publications and presentations, with four articles published in the February 2018 issue of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing (JHPN). The September 2017 HPNA Clinical Practice Forum ( also featured a session on the findings of the summit.

The steering committee will be actively seeking funding to support the implementation plan. HPNA appreciates the support of the Milbank Foundation, Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center, and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation.


Key Summit Documents and Resources 

Key Documents (updated)


American Nurses Association & Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. Call for Action: Nurses Lead and Transform Palliative Care, April 2017.

HPNA Position Statement: The Nurses Role in Advance Care Planning.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement: The IHI Triple Aim.

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.

CMS Innovation Center.

National Academies of Science: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.

National Academies of Science: Back to the Future of Nursing: A Look Ahead Based on a Landmark IOM Report.

National Academies of Science: Health Literacy and Palliative Care.

ANA-HPNA Professional Issues Panel on Palliative and Hospice Nursing.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing CARES – Competencies and Recommendations for Educating Undergraduate Nursing Students: Preparing Nurses to Care for the Seriously Ill and Their Families. 

Attending Organizations

  • Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) – 11,350 members
  • Academy of Neonatal Nursing (ANN) – 6,000 members
  • American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) – 3,000 members
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses – 100,000 members
  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) – 3,400 members
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) – 70,000 members
  • American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) – 4,500 members
  • American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) – 10,000 members
  • American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) – 10,000 members
  • American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) – 1,300 members
  • Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing (ARIN) – 2,000 members
  • Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) – 3,600 members
  • Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) – 5,600 members
  • Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) – 40,000 members
  • Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) – 3,100 member
  • Home Healthcare Nurses Association (HHNA)
  • Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association – 12,500 members
  • Infusion Nurses Society (INS) – 6,500 members
  • International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS) – 1,900 members
  • National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) – 2,000 members
  • National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration (NADONA) – 21,000 members
  • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) – 8,500 members
  • Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) – 51,000 members
  • Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) – 37,000 members
  • Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN) – 4,000 members