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UMFK Professor attends "End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium"

February 1, 2002

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Dr. Rachel Albert, PhD, RN, associate professor of nursing and chair and director of the division of nursing at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, attended a three day course on end-of-life care held in Pasadena, California.

The program, coordinated in partnership with Last Acts was entitled, "End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium" for nurses providing/conducting continuing education courses. Upon completion of the course Albert was certified as an ELNEC trainer.

"Participation in the End of Life Education Consortium (ENLEC) program developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing provided the necessary training and resources to allow me to implement quality end-of-life care education and expand the scope of palliative nursing care in Northern Maine and beyond," said Albert.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the City of Hope (COH) Cancer Center received a three and a half year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to conduct this training program.

Studies show that nurses spend more time with patients who are facing the end of life than any other member of the health care team, yet studies have shown that many nurses feel inadequately prepared to provide the comprehensive care so important at the end of life.

The project was led by Geraldine Bednash, RN, PhD, FAAN (AACN) and Betty R. Ferrell, RN, PhD, FAAN (COH) as the principal investigators.

Albert was one of 140 competitively selected nurses from across the United States to attend this training program. The principal goal of the training program was to provide nursing continuing education providers with information on end-of-life care and resources to integrate end-of-life content into their inservice programs or courses. Course content was presented in several participatory formats including lecture, open forum discussion, small group activities, and training sessions.

The training program was conducted by a distinguished faculty of researchers, educators, authors, and leaders in the field of palliative care. Topic areas included nursing care at the end of life; pain and symptom assessment and management; cultural considerations; ethical/legal issues; communication grief, loss and bereavement; preparation and care for the time of death; and achieving quality care at the end of life.

"There is no doubt that America is getting older," added Albert. "With longer life expectancies comes an increased diagnosis of terminal illness. People who are dying need to feel confident that the health care system will take good care of them. Becoming an ELNEC trainer will permit me to ensure nursing students are exposed to the issues of death and dying and will be better prepared to respond to the end-of-life-care needs of pain, suffering, and grief for individuals diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses and their families."