Daily Theme: Collaborating for Family-Centered Care
The similarities between birth and death are striking. There is a sacredness in being in the presence of someone taking their first and last breath. Advocates for both insist they are natural processes that deliver hope, empower patients, while avoiding distress. However, rather than embracing this concept, palliative and EOL care has been stigmatized in the United States and is most evident in the training of healthcare providers.
It is estimated that there is a shortage of 6,000-8,000 trained providers in palliative care. The World Health Organization indicates lack of awareness and training in palliative care is a barrier to quality care. Education in palliative care is needed for all providers at three levels: basic, intermediate and specialist. Unfortunately, medical and nursing schools only spend approximately 15 hours on end-of-life education.
In today’s current healthcare environment this lack of training translates into unnecessary interventions, increased cost and poor outcomes. Advanced practice nurses need to lead the charge to increase education in palliative and EOL care. As leaders, we can inform patients, families, and other health professionals about the benefits of palliative care and available services and supports which will improve outcomes and transform how we care for our patients.
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Dr. Elena Prendergast
Elena Prendergast, DNP, APRN, FNP-C is a graduate of the ADN to MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program at Frontier Nursing University. In 2017, she completed the companion DNP. While a student at Frontier, she was inducted into the Chi Pi chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, graduated from the AACN Student Policy Summit in Washington DC, and was a recipient of the Frontier Nurse Practitioner Leadership Award. Dr. Prendergast has been a nurse since 2008 having received an Associate Degree in Nursing from Daytona State College. Her clinical experiences include primary care, medical-surgical, Interventional Radiology, critical care, and hospice. She began her career as a nurse practitioner at an integrative physical medicine clinic, in Augusta, GA.
A passionate advocate of palliative and end of life care, she has completed both the Trainer the Trainer and Advanced Practice End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) courses. She was recently been hired as Clinical Director of Palliative Care at Doctors Hospital of Augusta and is responsible for starting a palliative consult service at their facility where she is focused on improving quality of life for patients diagnosed with serious or life-limiting illnesses. Her long-term goal is to work to develop palliative care curricula in order to equip advanced practice nurses to effectively support, educate, and empower patients to take an active role in their healthcare decisions.