Educating Social Workers in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (ESPEC)

Educating Social Workers in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (ESPEC) is an innovative training program designed for social workers, by social workers, to promote the integration of primary palliative care skills into clinical practice.

Course Overview

ESPEC is a state-of-the art curriculum providing Interactive coursework with engaging videos of patient and family encounters, highlighting best social work practices using the eight domains of palliative care as the framework. Learners must complete Part I before registering for Part II and complete Part II before registering for Part III. Mentorship sessions can be joined at any time after completing Part I.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify best practices for front-line health social workers to integrate key palliative care principles into their clinical work.
  • Recognize the knowledge base and practice skills necessary to pursue additional competency in palliative social work.
  • Apply the skills necessary for more effective interprofessional communication and increased visibility in the health social work role.

Part I: Self-Directed Online Training

  • Integrates the eight domains of palliative care identified by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care into health social work practice.
  • Includes videos of patient and family encounters, interactive exercises, reflective questions, and resources for self-directed learning.
  • Credits: 8.0 hours CE for online independently paced training in the following categories:
    - 2.0 Clinical Social Work; 3.5 Pain and Symptom Management; 1.5 Cross-Cultural; 1.0 Ethics contact hours (8.0 total CE hours)
  • Fee: $150 for NASW Members / $200 for non-members


ESPEC-NYC is specifically designed for health social workers working in safety-net and other healthcare institutions in the New York City area. If you are interested in enrolling in ESPEC-NYC, or have been invited to participate, learn more. Otherwise, please keep scrolling to learn more about ESPEC and to enroll.

Part II: Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)

  • Live online instructor-led training designed to improve confidence and competence in key social work skills using clinical scenarios and group discussion
  • Credits: 2.5 hours CE for instructor-led training in the live online general social work category (2.5 total CE hours).
  • Fee: $100 for NASW Members / $150 for non-members.
  • Upcoming sessions (available only to those who have completed Part I)

Part III: Leadership Workshops (included in Part II registration)

  • Live virtual training focused on the development of effective advocacy and leadership skills
  • Designed to improve competence, confidence, and visibility in the health social work role
  • 4 hours of training split into 2 two-hour sessions
  • Completion of the Online modules and Virtual Instructor-Led Training are required prior to participation in the Leadership Training
  • Credits: 4.0 hours CE for leadership training in the live online general social work category (4.0 CE hours). – Both sessions MUST be completed in order to receive credit.
  • Upcoming sessions (select one):
    • Thursday, November 2, and Thursday, November 9, 2023, 2:00-4:00 pm ET
    • Thursday, December 7, and Thursday, December 14, 2023, 2:00-4:00 pm ET

Monthly Mentorship (included in Part I registration)

  • Live virtual sessions are provided to social workers who have completed Part I
  • Focused on the implementation of new practice skills and common challenges facing front-line health social workers in the workplace
  • Completion of the online modules is required prior to participation in the Mentorship sessions
  • Registration for Mentorship is not required. Join any session(s) using these Zoom links
  • Upcoming 2023 sessions will be held on Tuesdays, 4:00-5:00pm ET:

For any questions or issues with registration, please contact Kristal Shavers

The ESPEC program was developed as a partnership between the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network (SWHPN). ESPEC was made possible by the generous support of The New York Community Trust, the United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee, The Y.C. Ho/Helen & Michael Chiang Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, and The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.

Hear what people are saying about ESPEC

"ESPEC is playing a critical role in training primary healthcare social workers to attain necessary palliative care skills, thereby improving the quality of life and reducing the distressing symptoms of countless patients."
— Cathy Berkman, PhD, MSW

"This knowledge will empower them to engage patients and their loved ones in essential conversations regarding advance care planning, goals of care, patient preferences, and options for end-of-life care."
— Ken Meeker, LCSW

"ESPEC offers evidence-based literature, a progressive presentation of clinical encounters between a patient, family, and the team, and an overview from a clinical social work perspective, creating a valuable training that will enhance the healthcare social worker's skillset to work at the top of their license."
— Louise Knight, MSW, LCSW-C, OSW-C, FNAP


NYCT - The New York Community Trust
United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee
Ho | Chiang - The Y.C. Ho | Helen and Michael Chiang Foundation
Hearst Foundations

Fan Fox and Leslie R Samuels Foundation Logo

The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation