What is iCOPE?

The Interdisciplinary Curriculum in Oncology Palliative Education (iCOPE)

iCOPE’s Overall Aim:

To design, implement and evaluate an innovative, integrated, and interdisciplinary oncology palliative care curriculum for medical, nursing, social work and chaplaincy students.

Specific Aims:

  • Design an innovative, interdisciplinary oncology palliative care curriculum
  • Implement the interdisciplinary oncology palliative care curriculum
  • Develop and utilize an evaluation system that measures the effectiveness of the curriculum, learner outcomes, and the long term impact on practitioners

Project efforts focused the design, implementation and testing of an interdisciplinary oncology palliative care curriculum. Innovation as well as proven education modalities were utilized to determine:
1) if the educational objectives were aligned with the desired outcomes;
2) which modalities were most effective for each discipline;
3) how the modalities were best integrated; and
4) what factors contributed to the sustainability and portability of the curriculum.

The curriculum:

  • was centrally-driven, mandatory, integrated, flexible, multi-modal, and portable;
  • was driven by best clinical practices, evidence-based guidelines, and tested palliative care and oncology curricula;
  • demonstrated palliative care’s core principles by integrating the technical, scientific, and humanistic qualities into holistic care of the cancer patient;
  • included learning experiences that promote collaborative learning and teamwork and broaden interdisciplinary awareness;
  • combined innovative as well as proven learning modalities and technologies;
  • integrated interdisciplinary team approaches in both learning and practice of palliative care;
  • drew upon the principles of adult learning.

The proposal’s aims specifically addressed the National Institute of Health’s Program Announcement Number PAR-08-120, which called for: “Innovative educational programs intended to motivate health science students to pursue careers around cancer control…(the) training of cancer care practitioners in evidence-based cancer control approaches… and (the) development of innovative education approaches to translate recent knowledge gained into community applications.”

iCOPE is an innovative, interdisciplinary, mandatory curriculum for learners in the schools of nursing, medicine and social work as well as chaplain residents. iCOPE was developed at the University of Louisville. Didactic online modules, clinical rotations in palliative care, reflective writing exercises and related sharing, and an interdisciplinary case management experience are used to teach students of the four disciplines the knowledge and skills needed to provide interdisciplinary palliative care in oncology.Through interactive learning experiences, students develop the collaboration and communication skills necessary for effective teamwork.Over 1,000 students have completed this ongoing curriculum. Participants include senior BSN students from the School of Nursing, senior medical students from the School of Medicine, MSSW students from the Kent School of Social Work, and chaplaincy residents completing their Clinical Pastoral Education requirements at three local hospitals. iCOPE was initially funded by the National Cancer Institute through the R25 mechanism which supports cancer education efforts. The curriculum and all teaching materials are available through this website for use by other institutions.

This is the introductory video that our learners viewed before beginning the iCOPE learning experience.


This Grant was Funded by the National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute

September 1, 2010-August 31, 2015
$1.5 Million
NCI Grant # 1R25CA148005
Mark Pfeifer, PI