Providing Consistency in Palliative Care Education

Topic: Education Strategies

How much valuable time do Palliative Care Teams spend dispelling misconceptions and clarifying misperceptions to accurately reveal what Palliative Services provide? When a patient has a life-altering illness, discussions related to goals of care, critical decision-making, symptom management, and available supportive resources occur often, with multiple staff members, multiple disciplines, and many clinicians who do not necessarily have expertise in palliative care. We know that high quality palliative care is characterized by excellent communication skills; the accuracy of the information conveyed and the manner in which the message is delivered is crucial when building trust and therapeutic relationships with patients.

In a 500+ bed Community Hospital, a busy Palliative Care Team identified the opportunity to improve patient and family care by launching a creative project to increase the consistency of education related to palliative care. We identified that many misconceptions continue to exist amongst clinicians, which then carries over to patients. Examples are: misinterpretation of palliative resources and eligibility criteria, symptom management delivery, and crises management.

As patient volumes, service demands, and hospital staff steadily increase, the challenge of sustainable education increases. Our team pursues ongoing, bedside training, as well as formal educational offerings, but we discerned that we needed an action plan to facilitate consistency across the continuum. We performed a needs assessment to explore how we could provide general palliative care education to physicians, nurses, social workers and ancillary staff. Results revealed that the majority of staff wished for written material, easily formatted, and readily available.

Discipline-specific educational pocket guides were developed for physicians, nurses, and social workers. The non-clinical material includes basic eligibility criteria, resource contact information, therapeutic conversation suggestions; clinical material includes above-mentioned, as well as equianalgesic charts and pharmacologic/non-pharmacologic symptom management guidelines. This information will also be posted on our hospital intranet. Patient brochures were also updated and refreshed, made more patient-population specific and approved by our patient education committee for additional tools for team and clinician utilization.This poster will reveal our journey to improve consistency in palliative care delivery by all staff, and will present our material.


  • Cindy Kuklenski, RN
  • Palliative Care/Pain Management Nurse
  • Shawnee Mission Medical Center
  • 9100 W. 74th Street
  • Shawnee Mission, KS 66204
  • (913) 676-2224

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