Embodiment of Hospice Nurses: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Studies

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Abstract

This article describes the process and the product of a metasynthesis of qualitative studies focused on hospice nurses. A metaphor of body and spirit is used to present a composite snapshot of the qualities, characteristics, and challenges of hospice nurses in the United States. The foundations that support the ability of the nurse to sustain this work are revealed through the legs. The stressors and emotional turbulence embedded in the practice are centered in the belly. Gifts given and received are described through the hands. Communications of often-difficult truths are relegated to the ears and mouth. The specialized knowledge resides in the mind. The existential qualities are conceptualized within the heart and spirit. Commonalities of the highly skilled hospice nurse include strong commitments to the interdisciplinary team, to the patient families, and to the self. The nurse brings skillful, compassionate care to the patient families while working to maintain personal and professional support systems.

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