Growing the Next Generation of Nurse Leaders in Palliative Care: An International Case Study

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Kathryn A. Pfaff, PhD, RN
Linda J. Patrick, PhD, MSc, MA, BScN
Laurie Freeman-Gibb, PhD
Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada

Purpose:  There is a global need to address the growing palliative and end of life care needs of individuals who are living longer, and who also live with serious and complex life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses. This will require significant growth in point-of-care resources, including a sustainable palliative care workforce. More importantly, it will require a complement of nurse leaders who will play key roles in education, evidence-based practice change, care coordination, and program evaluation. This presentation summarizes the findings of an evaluation of an international exchange program in palliative care. The project's aim was to engage graduate students in nursing to develop advanced knowledge and leadership skills in palliative care. The program was funded by the Canadian government and was built on an existing collaborative academic relationship between the University of Windsor in Canada, and Keele University in the United Kingdom. It also leveraged the shared community relationships among four community hospices, one hospital-based palliative care unit, one community outreach program, and a cadre of clinicians who served as champions and mentors.

Methods: The study employed a descriptive single case study design (Yin, 2003) with three embedded units of analysis: scholars, universities, and organizations.

Results: The findings revealed three overarching project processes that supported the project's success. These were: readiness, engagement, and outcome achievement. Within these processes, a number of themes emerged from the data. These were: passion and perseverence, discovery and inquiry, committed mentors, partnerships, and unexpected synergies that span the Atlantic Ocean.

Conclusion: This project is a beginning step in developing global nursing leaders in palliative care. International exchange in palliative care enables the sharing of best evidence in palliative care. It requires the partnership of academic institutions and practice organizations who are willing to invest significant time, funds, and energy. The findings of this project suggest processes and strategies for successful international collaborations in palliative care education and leadership. Project expansion and sustainability will require new and ongoing resources.