Press Release  

For Immediate Release


WASHINGTON, DC, March 3, 2000 -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded a grant of $2,224,543 to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to support a comprehensive, national education program to improve end-of-life (EOL) care by nurses.

The 3-1/2 year effort to develop a core of expert nursing faculty in end-of-life care, and to coordinate national nursing efforts related to EOL issues, is a partnership of AACN and the City of Hope Cancer Center. AACN will coordinate the program with nurse researchers at the Los Angeles-based City of Hope (COH), developing the course curriculum in nine core content areas and evaluating the impact of the education.

Based in Princeton, N.J., The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care.

"Nurses spend more time with patients and their families than do any other health professionals and are in the most immediate position to provide care, comfort, and counsel at the end of life when critical decisions must be reached and compassionate and highly specialized care provided," explains AACN President Andrea R. Lindell, DNSc, RN. "This program combines the resources of AACN -- a leading education force in nursing -- with the research expertise of City of Hope nurse investigators in an ambitious learning program which will have considerable impact on nursing education and practice."

"We are excited to work with AACN in this national effort to improve end-of-life care," says Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN, FAAN, research scientist at City of Hope and a principal investigator for the AACN / City of Hope project. "This partnership will combine the leadership of AACN and our research and education efforts to transform nursing care for patients and families facing death."

The project will closely parallel activities of the American Medical Association's current program, "Educating Physicians for End-of-Life Care (EPEC)," which is coordinating efforts to enhance end-of-life care by practicing physicians. Several isolated efforts have been launched in recent years addressing the need for improved EOL care by nurses. However, there has been no unified program that broadly addresses the preparation of the largest health profession -- nursing -- to improve care at the end of life. In addition, there also has been no organized effort to connect EOL activities throughout nursing to attain maximum benefit.

After accessing and analyzing all available educational materials from AACN, the City of Hope, EPEC, hospice organizations, and other sources, the AACN / COH project will develop a core training curriculum to develop EOL expertise in nursing faculty in bachelor's- and associate-degree programs, as well as for faculty who teach in continuing education programs provided by hospitals, hospices, specialty nursing organizations, and private CE providers. The program also will reach state nursing boards through collaboration with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

The curriculum will focus on a range of core areas in EOL care, including broad issues of nursing care at the end of life; as well as educational content in pain management; symptom management; cultural considerations in EOL care; ethical/legal issues; communication; grief, loss, and bereavement; preparation and care for the time of death; and achieving quality of life at the end of life.

Reinforcing Recent Initiatives

The project's content also will be guided by AACN's recent Peaceful Death statement detailing the end-of-life care competencies that every undergraduate nurse should attain. As the statement emphasized, the AACN / COH project will work to add EOL content not merely as one or two isolated courses, but integrated throughout nursing curricula and clinical teaching. The project also is reinforced by the work of City of Hope investigators who over the past decade have developed pain management and EOL content in multiple curricula. In addition, a major project launched by the City of Hope in 1997 has included a review of nursing textbooks that address EOL issues and steps to improve EOL content in the national licensing exam for registered nurses.

Training through the AACN / City of Hope project will occur in five conferences at educational sites around the nation for undergraduate and continuing education faculty, as well as for staff and board members of state boards of nursing. The first conference is slated for January 2001.

In all, the five programs will train a total of 500 faculty who will have potential access, through their schools' or agencies' educational programs, to 123,000 registered nurses projected to receive the EOL content in the project's first two years. Moreover, it is estimated that thousands of additional RNs will receive EOL information and education through an AACN Web site to be developed for the project, and through extensive contacts to occur through AACN's communications with nursing specialty organizations, the hospice and palliative nursing community, and the efforts of the project's Advisory Board organizations.

Recognized Expertise and Broad National Reach

Investigators for the AACN / City of Hope project include Geraldine Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN and Anne Rhome, MPH, RN, executive director and deputy executive director, respectively, of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and Frances Weed, MSN, RN, director of special projects at AACN. Joining Dr. Ferrell as investigators at the City of Hope are research scientist Marcia Grant, DNSc, RN, FAAN and research specialist Rose Virani, MHA, RN, OCN.

In developing the EOL curricula, City of Hope investigators will work closely with nationally recognized leaders in palliative nursing, including Patrick Coyne, MSN, RN, CHPN, a clinical nurse specialist at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals at Virginia Commonwealth University and a leading authority on pain management and hospice nursing education; Kathy Egan, MA, RN, CHPN, vice president of the Hospice Institute of the Florida Suncoast, a leader in end-of-life care, education, research, and program innovation; Judy Paice, PhD, RN, FAAN, a nurse specialist and pain management authority in the Palliative Care and Home Hospice program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; and Joan Panke, BSN, RN, a hospice nurse expert who is currently a graduate student in the Palliative Care program at New York University School of Nursing.

Representing 10 organizations throughout nursing and health care, the project's Advisory Board will provide extensive expert input for curriculum development. The board also will facilitate national networking among national nursing organizations, hospices, and the larger professional community in EOL care. Advisory Board organizations include representatives of:

American Medical Association, EPEC Program
American Nurses Association
Consortium of Specialty Nursing Groups
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing
Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
Oncology Nursing Society
Veterans Administration Health System

Conference information and applications will be distributed in July 2000.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is the national voice for university and four-year-college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 500 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.

City of Hope Cancer Center is one of the world's leading research and treatment centers for cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including diabetes and HIV / AIDS. A pioneer in the field of bone marrow transplantation, City of Hope is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Care Center. To learn more about City of Hope, visit our Web site at City of Hope, where the power of knowledge saves lives.

CONTACT: Robert Rosseter
(202) 463-6930, x231

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