U of A Students Introduced to Hospice Nursing

March 29, 2017

Dr. Larry Wright, center, and Misty Sparks, far left, spoke with University of Arkansas nursing students during a visit March 13 to Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale.
Dr. Larry Wright, center, and Misty Sparks, far left, spoke with University of Arkansas nursing students during a visit March 13 to Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale.

Students in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing visited Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale on March 13 as part of a class on palliative and end-of-life care.

Cathy Hale, University of Arkansas clinical instructor in the nursing program, said her class of 12 students is learning how to provide care at the end of life. Hale is a certified hospice and palliative nurse who teaches the elective course.

Dr. Larry Wright spoke to the students about the difference between hospice and palliative care, the team approach of interdisciplinary professionals, hospice philosophy and providing patient and family-centered care while helping the patient maintain dignity and hope. Palliative care focuses on relieving pain and other distressing symptoms for patients regardless of whether they are receiving hospice care.

Hospice provides palliative care for terminally ill patients while palliative care can also be for anyone with a serious illness.

Hale uses the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium curriculum provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in her class.

"There is a great deal of class discussion, and we address ethical and cultural issues, moment of death, therapeutic communication and bereavement," she said. "I use videos, vignettes and assigned readings. There are no exams because I want the students to be relaxed and open to learning and ask questions. They have to write a reflection paper after the course, and their writings reveal they not only add knowledge of caring for the patient and family facing a terminal illness, but also grow personally. By nature of the discussion of death, students become thoughtful of their own mortality, which often leads to resolution of their own existential issues."

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