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Elzbieta Sikorska-Simmons

University of Central Florida, USA

Title: Palliative care in graduate nursing education

Biography

Elzbieta Sikorska-Simmons received her PhD. from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1998. Her teaching and research interests are medical sociology, sociology of aging, organizational theory, and long-term care policy. Her published work has focused on organizational determinants of resident satisfaction with assisted living, the hospice movement in Poland, and psychosocial aspects of cancer care. Her current research examines the influence of organizational procesess and structures on resident autonomy in assisted living.

Abstract

With its origins in the hospice movement, palliative care represents an important treatment option for patients with life threatening illnesses. Th e goal of palliative care is to provide pain management, symptom control, and psychosocial support to patients and their families as they face terminal or advanced chronic illness. Although nurses play a critical role in the provision of palliative care, few of them receive formal training in palliative care. Despite multiple eff orts to improve the quality of nursing education in palliative care, little is known about the extent to which nursing schools incorporate such training into their curricular. Th erefore, the purpose of this study was to systematically examine the extent to which palliative care is incorporated in graduate nursing education in the United States. All 418 master’s programs and 112 doctoral programs (accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) were included. Web-based and manual searches of school catalogs and other relevant materials were conducted. Th e quality of graduate nursing education in palliative care was examined according to the following criteria: 1. Presence of graduate faculty members, who specialize in palliative care, 2. Graduate course off erings in palliative care, 3. Continuing education programs in palliative care. Th e preliminary fi ndings suggest that a dearth of adequate nursing training in palliative care exists. Few schools incorporate palliative care into their graduate education. Provision of optimal quality palliative care to the growing number of people who are dying of chronic illnesses remains a major challenge.

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