The voice of nurse educators on teaching end of life care in U.S. schools of nursing

Vidette Todaro-Franceschi, Adrial A. Lobelo


Background: End of life care (EOLC) education is important for those engaged in the caring professions. In 1997 the principal investigator (PI) for this study, working as a nurse educator, noted that there was no EOLC in the undergraduate program in her school of nursing, and she began to incorporate content into her teaching. She was not alone; over a decade ago it was identified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) that there were deficiencies in EOLC nursing education. AACN worked with the City of Hope National Medical Center to form the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) to help address the pedagogic insufficiency. The PI was in the first ELNEC Trainer cohort in 2001 and has been to several other ELNEC conferences since then. The author’s experiences with the integration of EOLC education, along with ongoing commentary from other nurse educators at various conferences and seminars, prompted this study.

Methods: This was an exploratory descriptive study in which nurse educators in U.S. schools of nursing were invited to participate in a survey to elicit information regarding the current state of end of life care (EOLC) education in their respective school programs. A survey was developed and after IRB approval was emailed in several phases to academic nursing programs throughout the United States. Among respondents who met inclusionary criteria for the survey, 233 completed the survey. Survey participants were anonymous and were also invited to provide commentary and recommendations. Analysis-synthesis of qualitative data was done to identify if there were any themes.

Results: Two hundred and four participants responded to the question of whether they had been able to integrate EOLC content into their respective programs and 138 answered in the affirmative, although almost all of the participants, even those who claimed some success in the integration of EOLC content, shared having met with various obstacles. How much EOLC education was integrated and what was actually taught varied considerably. Significant barriers to EOLC education were identified by many respondents and recommendations for improvement were offered.

Conclusions: Nurse educators need to champion EOLC education in schools of nursing to ensure that nurses today and tomorrow will be prepared to provide the quality care that society deserves.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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