Fairfield University's School of Nursing receives $75,000 to educate nurses in end-of-life nursing care

Fairfield University's School of Nursing receives $75,000 to educate nurses in end-of-life nursing care

Image: Meredith Wallace Caring for people who are dying is among the top ten most challenging issues in nursing, and oftentimes, the reluctance to acknowledge death is at hand has made the nursing care that is provided less effective than it could be, said Meredith Wallace, Ph.D., APRN, associate professor & Elizabeth DeCamp McInerney Chair of Health Sciences in the School of Nursing.

The Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation has awarded $74,937 to Fairfield University's School of Nursing to study and teach students about nursing care for dying patients. The grant will allow the school to bring in a visiting faculty scholar in palliative (end-of-life) nursing care and will fund four faculty research projects in palliative nursing care.

The goal of palliative nursing care is to allow people to die in a manner that they would consider a "good death," said Dr. Wallace, a resident of New Haven.

Palliative nursing care has recently undergone a great deal of research, and the role of the nurse at the end of life is becoming better articulated. Fairfield University's program is designed to incorporate palliative nursing care education into its School of Nursing curriculum. It will incorporate several topics, including spiritual resources, patient and family communication, and pain management.

Fairfield University is modeling its palliative nursing care initiatives on its already-established project to incorporate geriatric nursing care into its nursing curriculum, Dr. Wallace said. That program had been supported by a $90,000 grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Fairfield's School of Nursing was recently awarded the John A. Hartford Foundation's Institute for Geriatric Nursing/American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2005 Award for Baccalaureate Education in Geriatric Nursing for infusing geriatrics into the undergraduate curriculum. In awarding the honor, the Foundation noted "Your gerontology initiative ranked extremely high on all selection criteria, and your application truly exemplifies an outstanding use of innovative and diverse clinical settings.

"This year's applications were of exceptional quality in all four categories, which made the selection process extremely difficult, so you are to be highly commended."

The School hopes to take a similar approach with palliative nursing care, thanks to the generous grant from the Pfeiffer Foundation.

The Denville, New Jersey-based Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation makes grants of up to $75,000 to tax exempt institutions for projects or programs carried out in the United States for advancement of medicine and pharmacy, including scientific research, post-graduate scholarship and fellowship assistance, and studies in nutrition, blindness, deafness and other physical disabilities.

"This grant takes the next step," Dr. Wallace said. "It positions our faculty to be leaders of knowledge development in palliative nursing care."

The grant will fund an expert in the field to teach palliative nursing care in several courses. In addition, it will fund the following faculty research projects: "An Exploration of Antidepressant Interventions Among Hospice Patients," run by Professor Sheila Grossman, Ph.D., APRN-BC; "Spirituality in the Management of Chronic Illness Among Puerto Rican Women," run by Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director Jean Lange, Ph.D., RN; "A Qualitative Study of Self-Identity during the Final Stages of Terminal Illness," run by Assistant Professor Joyce Shea, DNSc, RN, CS; and "The Spirituality of Nursing Home Residents with DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Orders," run by Dr. Wallace.

"In keeping with our Jesuit Mission of service to others, Fairfield University's School of Nursing is committed to providing nurses with the knowledge they need to offer the most effective and compassionate care they can to their patients," said Jeanne M. Novotny, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of Fairfield University's School of Nursing. "With this grant from the Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation, we hope to enrich our curriculum with best practices in palliative nursing care and thus prepare our students to be a comfort for those facing the end of life."

Posted On: 12-21-2005 10:12 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 124