DUARTE, CaliforniaNurses play a crucial role in the quality of
patients’ experience at the end of life, but nursing schools have not
traditionally provided high-quality training in caring for the dying,
according to Rose Virani, RNC, MHA. Now a program funded by the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation aims to upgrade the offerings of the nation’s nursing
schools through specialized end-of-life courses for nursing educators.
Ms. Virani, research specialist, Nursing Research and Education, at the
City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, outlined the new
program being conducted by the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC).
A collaboration between the City of Hope Cancer Center and the American
Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), ELNEC has developed a curriculum
based on the AACN’s Peaceful Death document. The curriculum is designed to
provide faculty at undergraduate nursing schools and providers of
professional continuing education with the resources they need to expand the
coverage of end-of-life issues in their own programs. Among the areas of
- nursing care at the end of life;
- methods for managing pain and symptoms;
- legal, ethical, and cultural issues;
- bereavement and grief; and
- preparation for death.
Positive Results Reported
To date, five undergraduate courses run by ELNEC have drawn 550
participants, Ms. Virani said. Each person receives a hefty "4-inch,
5-pound notebook" of course materials including references and slides
for the course modules. In addition to class work, the program offers
participants opportunities for networking and sharing experiences and ideas.
Participating undergraduate instructors surveyed after completing the
course reported increases in both the time that their schools allot to
end-of-life issuesfrom 18.6 to 30 hours, on averageand in the
effectiveness of their graduates in providing end-of-life care, Ms. Virani
said. Resistance from other faculty members has, however, constituted a
barrier to change, the respondents reported.
Four additional courses will be offered between June 2002 and January
2003. As ELNEC reaches more and more nursing educators, who in turn train
more and more nurses, "the dying will receive improved end of life
care," Ms. Virani concluded.
Information on ELNEC courses is available at the website http://www.aacn.nche.edu/elnec.