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

MJHS & NASW Partnership Program

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

Program components include interactive online coursework, live, synchronous instructor-led training, monthly mentorship, and leadership training. The state-of-the-art curriculum presents videos of patient and family encounters, highlighting best social work practices using the framework of the eight domains of palliative care. Interactive training techniques are designed to engage the learner and create a new community of practice.

Learning Objectives

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

Course Overview

The ESPEC Program is designed as an innovative four-part curriculum

  • Part I: Interactive 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, and 1.0 Ethics contact hours (8.0 total CE hours)
  • Part II: Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)
    • Live online instructor-led training designed to improve confidence and competency in four key social work skills using clinical scenarios and group discussion
    • Completion of the online modules is required prior to participation in the instructor-led training
    • Credits: 2.5 hours CE for instructor-led training in the live online general social work category (2.5 total CE hours)
  • Part III: Leadership Workshops
    • Live virtual training focused on development of effective advocacy and leadership skills
    • Designed to improve competence, confidence and visibility in the health social work role
    • Credits: 4.0 hours CE for leadership training in the live online general social work category (4.0 CE hours)
  • Part IV: Monthly Mentorship
    • Live virtual sessions provided free to social workers who complete Parts I and II
    • Facilitated by ESPEC faculty and focused on the implementation of new practice skills and an exploration of common challenges facing front-line health social workers in the workplace


  • NASW Members: $250
  • Nonmembers: $325

For group rates and non-profit pricing, please contact

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, and the Hearst Foundations.

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