Nurses spend more time with patients who are facing the end of life than any other members of the health care team. Yet, studies have shown that many nurses feel inadequately prepared to provide the comprehensive care so important at the end of life.
More than 54,000 American veterans — mostly from World War II and Korea — die each month, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospice and Palliative Care Initiative (VAHPC) is trying the improve hospice and palliative care for them. Given that the number of Vietnam-era veterans over 65 will continue to grow through 2034, so too will the need for hospice and palliative care in the VA system.
Dr. Rose Kearney-Nunnery, Ph.D., RN, visiting Professor and Department Chair for Nursing at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, has recently attended a national ELNEC-For Veterans “Train the Trainers” course. This two day course on end-of-life care was held in Glendale, California. This program titled “End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium — For Veterans Curriculum: Promoting Palliative Care For Veterans” is for nurses and nurse educators working in Veteran Administration (VA) facilities or other setting caring for veterans to provide education to other nurses that is specific to the care of veterans at the end of life.
This project is led by Betty R. Ferrell, RN, PhD, FAAN, FPCN (COH), and is collaboratively administered by City of Hope, The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in Washington, D.C., and the Department of Veteran Affairs.
The principal goal of the training program is to provide information on end-of-life/palliative care and resources to integrate end-of-life/palliative content to VA facilities. Course content was presented in several participatory formats including lecture, open forum discussion, small group activities, and training sessions.
The training program was conducted by a distinguished faculty of researchers, educators, authors, and leaders in the field of palliative care. Topic areas included roles of the nurse in end-of-life/palliative care; pain and symptom assessment and management; cultural considerations; communication; loss, grief, and bereavement; final hours of life; and achieving quality improvement.