Oncology Nursing Education: Nursing Students' Commitment of "Presence" with the Dying Patient and the Family

By Walsh, Sandra M.; Hogan, Nancy S. | Nursing Education Perspectives, March/April 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Oncology Nursing Education: Nursing Students' Commitment of "Presence" with the Dying Patient and the Family

Walsh, Sandra M., Hogan, Nancy S., Nursing Education Perspectives

ABSTRACT During an elective oncology nursing course, students expressed uncertainties about activities that would offer patient and family support during end-of-life care. Following a chaplain's lecture, students in a class reaction paper identified appropriate nurse responses and actions that would offer supportive care to the dying patient and the family. Six processes were extracted from student comments.A core category was identified as the importance of "nurse presence" at the bedside of the dying patient.


"Topics in Oncology Nursing," developed as an elective for seniors and graduate students at the University of Miami School of Nursing, was designed to promote increased awareness among new nurses of the positive, and unforgettable, influence that a nurse may have when a patient nears the end of life. > The enrollment of 26 students the first time the course was offered was indicative of high student interest. On their final evaluations, students rated the course as excellent and, in written comments, indicated that they now felt more comfortable in approaching and caring for dying patients and their families. Because of their enthusiasm and requests from current students, the University awarded an instructional advancement grant to strengthen the course and ensure its continuation. THIS ARTICLE PRESENTS AN ANALYSIS OF STUDENT RESPONSES TO END-OF-LIFE ISSUES FOLLOWING A GUEST LECTURE BY A CHAPLAIN,WHO SHARED HER FIRST EXPERIENCES WITH A DYING PATIENT.

Related Literature Within the health delivery system, the lack of communication with family members and terminally ill patients near the end of life has been well documented (6-11). It is distressing to note that a general lack of consideration of family rights and patient autonomy continues, despite efforts to improve end-of-life (EOL) care (5,9,10,12,13). Recent studies indicate that providers of care often make incorrect assumptions regarding what information and activities may be desired or needed by patients and families (14-19).

In both medical and nursing education texts, the amount of content that deals with the wide range of EOL care issues continues to be minimal (14,16,20). Therefore, nurses, although usually present and watchful at the bedside of the dying patient, are often ill prepared to assist family members (21,22). It has been noted that of all health professionals, nurses are in the most immediate position to provide care, comfort, and counsel at the end of life for patients and families (23). Yet, how we teach novice nurses to provide appropriate and supportive care remains a problem for educators.

Approaching the Problem As the course progressed, the faculty were aware that students remained uncertain about how to help patients and families when medical treatments appeared futile and death seemed imminent. Although most students were about to graduate, they expressed confusion about their role in providing EOL care. Indeed, the only option students agreed upon as appropriate in this situation was "leaving the family and patient alone to provide privacy."

Because chaplains are considered vital members of the interdisciplinary team, the faculty invited a chaplain from a regional comprehensive cancer center to speak during one of the last class sessions. Because of the students' apparent responses to this session, the decision was made to formally evaluate what students felt and what they learned that was most effective.

Asking students for qualitative feedback provided faculty with two opportunities. In addition to providing a timely evaluation of the speaker, it was considered important to assess what information would be valuable for teaching this content in future classes.

The students were given a one-page written assignment in which they were asked to identify what they learned from the presentation and how they planned to implement what they learned into their practice with terminal clients and their families.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Oncology Nursing Education: Nursing Students' Commitment of "Presence" with the Dying Patient and the Family


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?