Highpoint Health, Ivy Tech Collaborate on Hospice Nursing Course

Lawrenceburg, Ind.-based Highpoint Health system’s Home Health and Hospice Department has developed a for-credit course on hospice care for nursing students, in collaboration with Ivy Tech Community College, as part of the college’s Nursing Complex Medical Surgical curriculum.

Most clinicians do not receive training in hospice or palliative care during their degree programs, in fact many clinicians working in other settings do not have a solid understanding of what hospice or palliative care are. Most hospice nurses train on the job or seek post-graduate continuing education. Physicians pursuing a career in hospice typically must participate in a fellowship program to receive their training.

“In May 2018, I began praying about how I could connect with Ivy Tech Community College and find students to volunteer for hospice,” said Patti Warning, a Highpoint bereavement counselor who first envisioned the program. “Having been introduced to Tamara Schwing, program chair and associate professor of nursing and Jane Becker, assistant professor of nursing, at Ivy Tech, I wanted to work with them to find a way to addhospice training to the school’s course schedule.”

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Development of the course comes at a time when hospices nationwide are sweating over ways to fill their ranks as demand for their services rise and the workforce dwindles due to retirements and staff burnout.

Some in the field have called for ways to accelerate education for hospice and palliative care clinicians or incorporate palliative principles into nursing and medical curricula.

“Many staff would be need additional training. We all train in the hospital. During training we spend much more time in an intensive care unit than we do in an outpatient setting, and most medical residents never set foot in a patient’s home,” Diane Meier, M.D., executive director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, told Hospice News in May. “The training would need to be flipped, so that the majority of clinical time was spent either in office practices or in home visits and much less time in the acute care hospital, because we will expect clinicians to start taking care of people in the patient’s home.”

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