Integrating palliative care content into a new undergraduate nursing curriculum: The University of Notre Dame, Australia - Sydney experience

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Journal Article
Collegian, 2010, 17 (2), pp. 85 - 91
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Background: The majority of society's deaths occur in a health care environment. Regardless of whether a death occurs in acute care, hospice, residential aged care or community settings, nurses are the health professionals that will spend the largest proportion of time with the patient who has a terminal condition and their families. As few nurses have specialist palliative care qualifications it is essential that nursing education prepares graduates to achieve the core capabilities required for the delivery of best evidenced based palliative care. This reality makes the integration of palliative care content into the undergraduate nursing curricula an important priority. Aim: This paper aims to describe how palliative care content has been embedded throughout the three-year University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney (UNDA) undergraduate nursing degree. Method: The School of Nursing at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus is committed to ensuring that students graduate with the capabilities to deliver appropriate care to people with requiring end-of-life care. The establishment of this new School of Nursing coincided with the release of the 'The Palliative Care Curricula for Undergraduates Program' (PCC4U) learning resources. These resources have been integrated into relevant units across the three-year nursing curricula. Discussion: The nursing curriculum has been design to supports the integration of palliative care knowledge into clinical practice. The Palliative Care Curricula for Undergraduates Program learning resources offer engaging palliative care case studies and scenarios for academics to utilise. Adopting an iterative approach where palliative care content is spiralled across multiple units provides opportunities for undergraduate nursing students to sequentially build and consolidate their palliative care capabilities. Conclusion: Developing a new curricular provided an ideal opportunity to integrate and embed palliative care content into the undergraduate nursing degree. The next stage of the curriculum development is to explore inter-professional palliative care education opportunities. Evaluating the palliative care capabilities of our nursing graduates is also an important consideration. Implications for practice: This paper provides practical suggestions for integrating palliative care education into an undergraduate nursing curriculum. © 2010 Royal College of Nursing, Australia.
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