Learning Objective 1: Describe historical and contemporary issues related to end of life care nursing education.
Learning Objective 2: Identify methods to overcome barriers and better integrate end of life care across nursing curricula.
It has been well over a decade since it became glaringly clear that the health professions needed to better prepare nurses and physicians to care for the dying and their loved ones. In 2000 the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) was created by the American Association of Colleges in Nursing and the City of Hope Medical Center to help address identified deficiencies in end of life (EOL) nursing education. EOL care nurse educators who teach in schools of nursing throughout the United States were invited to participate in a survey to identify whether: 1) they have been able to integrate EOL into their respective nursing curricula, 2) they have met with any obstacles in so doing, and 3) they have any recommendations for improvement.
After IRB approval, EOL and ELNEC trained educators from schools of nursing were invited to participate via email. A survey designed expressly for this study was administered via web-based technology (Survey Monkey) and included demographic questions along with questions specifically addressing EOL care content. Respondents (N =235) were asked to share their individual experiences with integrating EOL care into their nursing programs and were encouraged to provide recommendations for improving the assessment and delivery of EOL care education.
Findings indicate that there continue to be difficulties related to the incorporation of EOL care in nursing school curricula. Two salient themes emerged as barriers: faculty and administrative resistance (lack of support) and lack of classroom time to devote to the subject. In an era where the majority of people die in health care settings, it is of vital importance that nurses be prepared to provide EOL care.
Ongoing reevaluation of nursing curricula is necessary to ensure that EOL care is adequately and consistently taught in schools of nursing.
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