Oct. 19, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 4

CSON Launches Palliative Care Program

Funded by a three-year, $728,000 grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Connell School of Nursing has established a new palliative care nursing specialty in its master of science degree program.

Palliative care nursing provides care for patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses or injuries. The program, which is to be directed by CSON Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Patricia Tabloski - a nationally recognized expert on care of the elderly and one of the pioneers of hospice care - is the first of its kind to be offered through a New England college or university. The first course in the program will be offered next summer.

While there are many benefits to hospice care, says Tabloski, it is usually limited to patients with less than six months of life expectancy who forgo active treatment. Statistics show that more than one third of hospice patients die within a week of enrolling. The question, says Tabloski, is "how can we pick up these patients sooner?"

Palliative care offers treatment for seriously or chronically ill patients to relieve their suffering, control symptoms and keep them functioning at the highest level possible, Tabloski says. Such care is guided by the patient's needs and involves the patient's family.

"We'll be teaching students the art of nursing as well as the science," says Tabloski. "The best medicine is not always the most medicine. Quality of life is also important."

The Connell School palliative care program will also take strides to address the shortfall of this type of care among racial and ethnic minorities. "There is mistrust among some in this population," explains Tabloski, "and as a whole they are diagnosed later, are sometimes treated less aggressively and have poorer outcomes. Our program's goal is to prepare nurses to provide culturally sensitive care to seriously ill minority patients and their families."

Graduates of the program will be eligible to take the certification exam offered by the National Board of Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses. Nurses with palliative care training can work in hospitals, home care agencies and nursing homes.

-Kathleen Sullivan

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