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Integration of a Hospice Clinical Experience: Nursing Students' Perceptions

Jeffers, Stephanie, PhD, RN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: June 2018 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - p 266–271
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000437
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Prelicensure nursing programs have been slow to integrate end-of-life care into their curricula. In those prelicensure nursing programs that do offer courses on end-of-life care, student outcomes include positive attitudes toward dying patients. This mixed-method study had 2 purposes: first to compare 2 teaching strategies, hospice simulation and hospice clinical. The second purpose of this study was to strengthen understanding of the attitudes and perceptions of nursing students caring for dying patients and their families in both simulated and hospice clinical settings. Fourth-year nursing students enrolled in a Medical-Surgical Nursing III course participated in the study (n = 134). Participants were placed in an inpatient hospice clinical setting or a hospice simulation. Students completed the Frommelt Attitudes Toward Care of the Dying Scale and a reflection journal, before and after the assigned clinical or hospice day. Thematic analysis of the reflection journals was conducted. Key phrases and themes were identified, and the major themes were described. Prior to the hospice clinical or simulated educational experience, students reported feeling anxious caring for a dying patient or a patient who has just died. After the hospice clinical or simulation, students reported feeling more comfortable discussing end-of-life preferences with the patient and interdisciplinary team.

Stephanie Jeffers, PhD, RN, is assistant professor, Widener University School of Nursing, Chester, Pennsylvania.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address correspondence to Stephanie Jeffers, PhD, RN, Widener University School of Nursing, One University Place, Chester, PA 19013 (

© 2018 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.