Are Hospice and Palliative Nurses Adequately Prepared for End-of-Life Care?

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Abstract

At the frontlines, members of Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) are advocating for better outcomes for patients and their families, improving education for caregivers, and developing new knowledge in caring for their patients with life-limiting conditions. The purpose of this research was to assess core competencies deemed most important by HPNA members by assessing the quantity and quality of continuing education, personal effectiveness, and the level of commitment to end-of-life or palliative care by the nurse’s employer. A validated and replicated survey was mailed to 4022 HPNA members, with a nationally representative return rate of 31.2%. The main research variable was ranking of end-of-life care competencies and perceived gaps in palliative care continuing education. Nearly all of the respondents indicated that palliative care continuing education was important and nearly 80% of the respondents had 7 or more hours of specific continuing education in the preceding 2 years. Ninety-six percent of the respondents believe they are adequately prepared to effectively care for an individual with a life-limiting condition. Symptom management was the top-rated core competency, although pain management and how to talk to patients and families about dying were also frequently selected. HPNA nurse respondents are comfortable with the quantity and quality of orientation and continuing education within their scopes of practice in palliative care.

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