Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLPRAC 723 - Advanced Symptom Management in Palliative Care

15 Points

Semester 2



Advanced concepts in the assessment and management of symptoms and situations, including the more challenging ones encountered within the palliative care approach to malignant and non-malignant advanced diseases.


Prerequisite: POPLPRAC 722

Programme and course advice

This course is multidisciplinary in approach and suitable for students eligible for postgraduate study and engaged in clinical work with a palliative care component. Nursing students who are registered nurses with a minimum of two years clinical experience are eligible to apply. Health professionals who have fulfilled the admission requirements for postgraduate study are able to enrol in this course.

Postgraduate nursing students who wish to enrol in a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science are advised to contact the School of Nursing for guidance on a recommended pathway and core courses that need to be completed.

Other courses that may be of interest are POPLHLTH 746 Ethics, Culture and Societal Approaches to Death, POPLPRAC 720 Psychosocial Issues in Palliative Care, and POPLPRAC 702 Primary Mental Health.

Learning and teaching

This course is delivered in distance mode and includes two 2-day seminars in Auckland. Course details and information including access to digitised readings and assessments are online and will be made accessible on Canvas at the beginning of the semester. Broadband internet connection is recommended for easy access to online resources and assessments.

Goals of the course

The course aims:

  • To increase the student's knowledge of complex symptom management and palliative care issues
  • To facilitate integration of this learning into clinical practise
  • To provide the student with greater knowledge-based confidence that supports patient care and advocacy
  • To enable the student to critically evaluate the skills applied to symptom assessment and management in the clinical
  • To setting, to critique them and recommend improvement
  • To develop a deeper assessment and management approach to particularly challenging symptoms in advanced disease
  • To enable and support an ongoing appetite for life-long learning

Learning outcomes

The course will enable the student to:

  • Describe and work within the paradigm of holistic management and the multiple issues that characterise palliative care both in malignant and non-malignant disease
  • Communicate with other team members and other health professionals the issues that require further exploration and management.
  • Explore through discussion with the team, management strategies and opportunities to improve symptom management
  • Consider and apply the pharmacological and the non-pharmacological options to manage symptoms, including those less frequently encountered or more challenging to manage successfully.
  • Integrate the principles of palliative symptom management into care of patients with non-malignant and advanced chronic illness
  • Actively maximise team members' skills in assessment and care of patients/families through case-based management and to demonstrate with evidence how this could contribute to optimum palliative care
  • Critically analyse, identify and address gaps in patient care and to seek and utilise available resources (through case reviews).
  • Develop a role in palliative care leadership and education as part of an advanced practitioner's role

E-discussion will also take place around vignettes related to the course content. This will enable continued contact with the teaching team in a tutorial like interaction on topics throughout the course.

Teaching dates 

Seminar days are held in the Grafton Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO for the room details.


Assessment consists of:

  • A quiz based on previous work covered in POPLPRAC 722 (10%)
  • Two written assignments (25% each)
  • Case presentation to fellow students and tutors based on the second assignment (20%)
  • Two short cases (vignettes) which carry 20% of the final mark

Learning resources

It is recommended that you have access to the following texts:

  • Cherny, N., Fallon, M., Stein, K., Portenoy, R. and Currow, D. (eds)(2015)Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine 5th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Twycross, R., Wilcock, A. and Howard, P. (2014). Palliative Care Formulary. 5th Edition. Abingdon: Radcliffe Medical Press.
  • Twycross, R. G., Wilcock, A., & Stark Toller, C. (2009). Symptom management in advanced cancer (4th ed.). Nottingham, England: Palliativedrugs.com.
  • MacLeod, R., Vella-Brincat, J. & MacLeod, A. D. (2016). The Palliative Care Handbook, 8th Edition. New Zealand

Access to other digitised course readings will be available on the University Canvas website.

Course coordinator

Course administrator

Teaching staff