The number of deaths in critical care units continues to rise as patients are living longer with chronic illnesses; however, critical care registered nurses
report feelings of unpreparedness in the provision of end-of-life (EOL) care.
To understand and find meaning of critical care registered nurses
in the provision of EOL care.
A qualitative interpretive description study was conducted to allow for rich, descriptive detail through the participants' eyes. Semistructured one-on-one interviews were conducted with 12 participants. Constant comparative method was used to analyze the data.
According to the participants, to be prepared to provide EOL care, the nurses need to understand their personal beliefs about death and dying; be able to provide care to both patient and family; combine knowledge based on education, personal and professional experience, and support resources; balance the ongoing dialogue between their professional and personal role as a registered nurse; and find ways to make sense of the dying experience, specifically through closure.
Ultimately, the provision of EOL is contextual and will vary, requiring the critical care registered nurse to adapt to each situation utilizing the tools learned and experienced to promote patient, family, and nurse comfort. Improvements to nursing education and nursing practice are warranted to expose students and nurses to more EOL care experiences while also providing the tools and support resources during the provision of EOL care.