Palliative care is delivered to patients and their families when they are at their most helpless and vulnerable situations. Undoubtedly, palliative care is a perfect fit APRNs since they love the challenge of working with difficult and complex situations in addition to enjoy building close relationships with their patients and families. This type of care focuses on providing relief from physical symptoms and stress of serious or terminal illnesses (e.g., cancer), in addition to address the whole person. Likewise, palliative practice offers the opportunity to work thoroughly with an interdisciplinary team, including psychologists, nurses, physicians, social work, dietitians, pharmacists and volunteers, all functioning to treat challenging symptoms such as pain, depression, fatigue, constipation and a number of other symptoms associated with chronic medical conditions and mental health (Schroeder & Lorenz, 2017).
APRNs play a unique role in palliative care. As APRN typically implement a holistic approach to address the physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of the patient’s and family’s needs. At present, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that care decisions be evidence-based to effectively and efficiently care for patients and provide effective care in the end of life. This type of approach has been shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce health care costs throughout the lifespan, particularly at the end of life. Accordingly, a palliative care is regarded an evidence-based intervention and result in a higher quality of life and increased dignity, emotional and spiritual support, and patient and family well-being. Evidence suggests that patients receiving palliative and hospice care live longer when compared with similar patients who do not receive those services. At present, hospice services extend palliative care principles to the end of life (Dobbins, 2016).
In summary, multiple studies have emphasized the importance of meaningful conversations on an individual level in which key aspects related to patients’ values, goals, and preferences of care are discussed. Typically, most patients are not aware of the choices they have at the end of their lives. Therefore, APRNs should use the information and materials available to inform and advise their patients of possible options. Definitively, APRNs are recognized as skilled clinicians who interpret patient responses to diseases and treatments, advocate for holistic and effective care, facilitate relationships with other care providers, and provide bio-psychosocial care. Nowadays, APRNs serve as primary care hospitalists, administrators and health care providers. In addition, they function as researchers, educators, and advocates, and researchers. APRNs are perfectly positioned to improve the quality and availability of medical and social services for patients and their families, enhancing quality of life through the end of life (Dobbins, 2016).
Dobbins, E. H. (2016). Improving end-of-life care. The Nurse Practitioner • Vol. 41, No. 9, 26- 34.
Schroeder, K. & Lorenz. K. (2017). Nursing and the future of palliative care. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs 2018; 5:4-8.