Evaluating End-of-Life Care Education Within Nursing Programs: A Method for Targeted Curriculum Evaluation


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Abstract

Many nurses report feeling ill prepared through their formal education to competently care for dying patients and their families. These deficits signal a need for curricular reform; however, current practices in the provision of palliative and end-of-life (EOL) care education must first be systematically evaluated to guide these reforms. This article will share the findings of a pilot study in which the context, input, process, and product evaluation model was used to guide a detailed evaluation of palliative and EOL care education within a baccalaureate nursing program. Critical aspects of palliative and EOL care education were identified from a decomposition of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) core curriculum. From the decomposition, a new instrument was developed and completed by nursing faculty members teaching in 1 baccalaureate program. Faculty members identified the ELNEC topics that were taught, the courses within which the content was provided, and the associated teaching methods used. Overall, 95.3% of ELNEC core curriculum content was included in the program; however, great interinstructor variability was noted. Clinical conference discussion/debriefing and lecture were most frequently used to teach ELNEC content. The content was addressed throughout the curriculum, particularly in ethics and aging didactic courses. Implications of the findings for future educational research are discussed.

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