As the bulk of our population ages, the consumer demand for palliative care services continues to rise, yet many health care professionals receive little training in the discipline during their formal education. At Virginia Mason, many of our nurses, physicians and team members have recognized the need for palliative care skills as a way to better serve their patients.
Palliative care focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms of serious illnesses while improving the quality of life for patients and their families. It can be provided to patients at any age and at any stage in their illness and works alongside other treatments (hospice is a type of palliative care).
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the request for a continuing education course in palliative care was made a reality after a grant application to develop curriculum had failed. Continued training and education for nurses is essential to keeping patients safe and healthy.
The palliative care pilot course focused on teaching end of life care to nurses in the cardiology, oncology and primary care departments. Feedback from participants was extremely positive - one participant remarked, “this was the best class I’ve ever had!” Curriculum designers are already looking at how to improve the course for next time by expanding to other medical professionals, incorporating interdisciplinary care and extending the reach of palliative care throughout a patient’s illness, well before end of life. We are so grateful to you, our donors, for making nursing educational opportunities like this possible. Your generosity has opened doors for nurses to learn innovative treatment methods, engage in discussions on best practices and share the wisdom gained from professional experiences.