September 2001

Nurses Become Trainers for End-of-Life Care

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First row, from left: Judith Cremers, Edie Rimas, Robin Zappacosta, Billie May. Second row, from left: Colleen Scanlon, Ann Kennedy, Pat Crawford, Joyce Hutchinson Carpenter, Marlene Evans, Holly Hoing.

Nine nurses from around Catholic Health Initiatives learned how to equip other caregivers with the skills needed to deliver effective end-of-life care at a recent training program sponsored by the End-Of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), Supportive Care of the Dying and the St. Louis University School of Nursing.

"Nurses spend more time with patients who are facing the end of life than other health professionals," said Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD, senior vice president of advocacy for Catholic Health Initiatives, who was a faculty member at the training program. "Expert nursing care has the potential to greatly reduce the burden and distress for patients and their families. Yet, research shows major deficiencies in preparing nurses for this essential role."

The training program, "Developing Staff Competencies in End-of-Life Care," was developed by the City of Hope National Medical Center and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program has been offered to nursing educators since January 2001.

The session attended by the Catholic Health Initiatives nurses was a pilot program geared to practicing nurses in the clinical arena. As a member of the Supportive Care of the Dying coalition, Catholic Health Initiatives was able to send nine participants to the program, held July 25-27 at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. The curriculum included modules on:

·Nursing care at the end of life
·A Catholic perspective on end-of-life care
·Pain management
·Symptom management
·Ethical and legal issues
·The role of culture
·Grief, loss and bereavement
·Achieving quality care at the end of life
·Preparation and care for the time of death

"The nurses who completed the course will now be vital forces in the dissemination of this knowledge within Catholic Health Initiatives and the broader health care community," said Scanlon.

For more information about future training programs, contact Colleen Scanlon at

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Scanlon Addresses End-of-Life Care Issues in Two Articles

Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD, senior vice president of advocacy for Catholic Health Initiatives, has authored two recent articles on issues related to end-of-life care. In an article published by Quarterly, the alumni magazine of the College of New Rochelle, titled "Weighing Choices: Health Care Ethics From the Bedside to National Policy," Scanlon discusses the ethical issues involved in end-of-life care and implications for national policy.

In "End-of-Life Issues in Intensive Care Units: A National Random Survey of Nurses’ Knowledge and Beliefs," published in the July 2001 issue of the American Journal of Critical Care, Scanlon and several co-authors investigate the knowledge, beliefs and ethical concerns of nurses who care for patients dying in intensive care units.