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Palliative Nursing’s Role During COVID-19 and Beyond

As a rapid influx of patients overwhelmed health systems during the coronavirus pandemic, palliative nurses played dual roles supporting patients, patient families, and colleagues. Two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) are among those detailing the important role palliative care has in responding during the COVID-19 pandemic and in future public health crises.

Advancing Palliative Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

As history proves, nursing science and scholarship have consistently improved patient care and outcomes throughout history’s most daunting times. Today, nurse scientists and scholars have a unique opportunity to translate lessons learned about the shortcomings of health care during COVID-19 into strategic actions and investigations that reflect the needs of a rapidly changing society.

“Investing in the global culture of palliative care scholarship for nurses and health professionals across practice domains is one of the most accessible approaches to ensuring health care reflects a person-centered and value concordant ethos in the face of a future public health crisis,” write William E. Rosa, PhD, MBE, NP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar and Salimah H. Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN, Professor of Nursing & Term Chair of Palliative Care and Associate Director of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health. They are two of the co-authors of a guest editorial in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

Their editorial provides a palliative care perspective on advancing patient care globally during COVID-19 and beyond. It provides recommendations to develop a research agenda rooted in a palliative care philosophy and ethos to meet the current global population health needs and anticipated future health crises.

The editorial, “Opportunities for Nursing Science to Advance Patient Care in the Time of COVID-19:A Palliative Care Perspective” is available online. Co-authors of the editorial include Patricia W. Stone, PhD, RN, FAAN, CIC of the Columbia University School of Nursing; and Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN, FAAN, FPCN, of the City of Hope Medical Center.

Optimizing the Palliative Nursing Role

Palliative nurses play a primary and significant role in supporting the broader health care system.  As the pandemic continues to evolve, it has become clear that the work of the palliative nurse is indispensable as issues surrounding serious illness, dying, and death are no longer taboo but have become continuous threads of daily mainstream media, politics, and policy-making.

“This crisis offers an opportunity to reimagine the benefits of full palliative care integration to mitigate the effects of this and future health crises for patients, families, and communities,” write Rosa and Meghani, two of the co-authors of an article in the Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing.

The authors share how best to leverage and integrate the palliative nursing role throughout health care settings. The article has implications for clinical nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and multidisciplinary stakeholders and includes resources for self-care and education.

Their article, “Recommendations to Leverage the Palliative Nursing Role During COVID-19 and Future Public Health Crises,” is available online. Co-authors of the article include researchers from around the world: Tamryn F. Gray, PhD, RN, of the Harvard Medical School; Kimberly Chow, RN, ANP-BC, ACHPN, and Shila Pandey, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, ACHPN , both of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, RN, FAAN, of Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing; J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, PhD, MSN, MA, ACHPN, FPCN, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing; Viola Karanja, BSN, RN, and Julius D.N. Kpoeh, ASN, RN , both of Partners in Health Liberia; Judy Khanyola, MSc, RCHN, Chair, of the University of Global Health Equity; Joseph Lusaka, BSc HM, DCM, PA, of the Pleebo Health Centre; Samuel T. Matula, PhD, RN, PCNS-BC, of the University of Botswana; Polly Mazanec, PhD, AOCN, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University; Patricia J. Moreland, PhD, CPNP, FAAN, of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University; and Amisha Parekh de Campos, PhD, MPH, CHPN of the University of Connecticut.