Palliative care and end of life issues in pre-registration, undergraduate nursing programmes

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Dickinson, George E. ; Clark, David ; Sque, Magi (2008)

End of life and palliative care topics have traditionally not been in nursing school curricula. Only in recent years have these been included. The aim of this research was to determine the current status of such an emphasis in programmes in the United Kingdom (UK). A mailed survey in 2006 to the 66 undergraduate (pre-registration) nursing programmes in the UK (return rate of 79%) determined that end of life and palliative care play a significant role in these programmes. Forty-five teaching hours on average were devoted to these topics. All of the schools have some provision on end of life and palliative care, and over 95% of students participated in these courses. A nurse was usually the primary instructor, although non-nurses were sometimes used. Attitudes toward dying and death and communicating with terminally-ill patients and family members were emphasised. By highlighting dying and death in the curricula, nursing schools appeared to be giving nursing students an opportunity to face the issue of death, thus helping them to be better prepared to help their patients and their families to do so.
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