Because only 4% of veterans die in Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospice and Palliative Care Program partnered with the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) to develop veteran-specific curricula and train-the-trainer courses. The goal was to educate and empower nurses to improve care for all veterans with serious illnesses. The partnership resulted in the development of 2 curricula that were disseminated through 6 national train-the-trainer courses. More than 730 participants attended, representing VA facilities and community providers from all 50 states and Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Since the training, 72 ELNEC–For Veterans courses have been offered in VA facilities and 17 courses in community settings. Attendees have taken what they have learned to promote palliative care education in their own facilities, help to change systems of care, collaborate with other institutions, develop bereavement services, and promote self-care for staff caring for dying veterans. With the funding for the initiative complete, the attendance and commitment of nurses and multiple other disciplines from within VA and community agencies highlight the importance of the ELNEC–For Veterans curriculum and education. Although they are aware of many barriers, their commitment to provide this education either “live” or through online education has been stellar. While the funding from the VA for this project has ceased, nurses have been provided a plethora of resources to be used to improve care for all veterans and their families. A change of culture has begun, as nurses have been educated to promote and advocate for excellent palliative care for all veterans.
Michelle S. Gabriel, MS, RN, ACHPN, is director of Process Improvement, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, California.
Pam Malloy, MN, RN, FPCN, is director and coinvestigator of the ELNEC Project, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Washington, DC.
Lauren R. Wilson, BA, is the research coordinator for ELNEC- For Veterans, City of Hope, Division of Nursing Research & Education, Duarte, California.
Rose Virani, MHA, RNC, OCN, FPCN, is senior research specialist/ELNEC project director, City of Hope Division of Nursing Research & Education, Duarte, California.
Diane H. Jones, MSW, is president, Ethos Consulting Group, Newark, Delaware.
Carol A. Luhrs, MD, FAAHPM, is chief, Hematology/Oncology Section, VA–New York Harbor Healthcare System, Brooklyn.
Scott T. Shreve, DO, is national director, Hospice and Palliative Care, Department of Veterans Affairs, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Address correspondence to Michelle S. Gabriel, MS, RN, ACHPN, Process Improvement, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 3801 Miranda Ave, MC: QSV, Palo Alto, CA 94304 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.