The role of a Hospice Nurse

Contact: Maria Patino

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Hospice and palliative care nurses work in collaboration with other health providers (such as physicians, social workers, or chaplains) within the context of an interdisciplinary team.  Composed of highly qualified, specially trained professionals and volunteers, the team blends their strengths together to anticipate and meet the needs of the patient and family facing terminal illness and bereavement.

Hospice and palliative nurses distinguish themselves from their colleagues in other nursing specialty practices by their unwavering focus on end-of-life care. Hospice and palliative care includes 24-hour nursing availability, management of pain and other symptoms, and family support. By providing expert management of pain and other symptoms combined with compassionate listening and counseling skills, hospice and palliative nurse promote the highest quality of life for the patient and family.

Regardless of the setting, hospice and palliative nurses strive to achieve an understanding of specific end-of-life issues from the perspective of each patient and his or her family.  To accomplish this, nurses collaborate in a cultural assessment of the patient and family and provide culturally sensitive care.

Hospice and palliative nursing is not only practiced at the bedside. Nurses, consistent with their individual educational preparation, experience and roles, promote the highest standards of end-of-lie care through community and professional education, participation in demonstration grants, and in end-of-life research. As society’s needs change and awareness of the issues surrounding the end of life increases, nurses are called to advocate for the terminally ill and their families through public policy forums, including the legislative process.

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