Student nurses learning about death, dying and loss: too little too late?

Cavaye, Joyce and Watts, Jacqueline H. (2014). Student nurses learning about death, dying and loss: too little too late? Illness, Crisis and Loss, 22(4) pp. 293–310.



Concerns about the care provided to people dying from life-threatening illness have prompted a number of international reforms to improve the quality of palliative and end of life care. The majority of this care is provided by nurses, who spend more time with dying patients than any other professionals and therefore, need specific clinical skills and knowledge. Thus palliative and end of life care education is increasingly being positioned as a specialism, available only to a small number of registered nurses as part of continuous professional development. However, increasing numbers of patients with life-threatening illness are being treated in non-specialist settings by nurses with a generalist education. Furthermore, undergraduate nurse education has traditionally, had a limited focus on palliative and end of life; hence claims that undergraduate nursing curricula are inadequate. This review draws on an international literature, to explore the evidence about the adequacy of undergraduate curricula. It considers the extent to which palliative and end of life education is included in undergraduate nurse education and draws upon evidence from students and registered nurses, who as consumers of education, report feeling unprepared to care for and communicate with, dying patients.

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