A full roster of topics - pain and symptom management, to grief, bereavement, and cultural competence - engaged and informed the nearly 100 RNs who attended 2019's ELNEC workshop at the School.

It was an eight-hour day of learning, dialogue, and engagement for the nearly 100 RNs -- many of them from critical care units in UVA Medical Center and across Virginia -- who attended the School of Nursing's annual End-of-Life Nursing Consotrium (ELNEC) workshop Oct. 8.

Panels and presentations included information on topics ranging from pain and symptom management to ethics, culture, communication, the stages of loss, grief, and bereavement, and what patients' in their final hours look like and need.

It's critical information for these nurses in a domain that's no often talked about or formally taught. A new study in the October issue of Critical Care Nurse found that fewer than 40 percent of Virginia nurses surveyed considered themselves "highly competent" in any domain of palliative care, though 96 percent reported that knowledge of palliative care principles was "very" or "extremely" important.

"Nurses cannot do what they do not know," said professor Clareen Wiencek, one of the conference organizers and its moderator, who underscored how important it is for nurses to have regular access to training and education.

"Nurses cannot do what they do not know."

Clareen Wiencek, professor and ELNEC conference organizer, on the importance of RNs' access to palliative care training

The day's speakers included:

  • Meg Barclay, UVA Health department of geriatrics and palliative care
  • Kevin Adams, UVA Health chaplain 
  • Jonathan Bartels, UVA Health's palliiative care nurse and liasion, and creator of "The Pause"
  • Sandra Dea Mahanes, UVA Health's clinical nurse specialist in the neurocritical Intermedicate Care ICU
  • Cynthia Sinchak, case manager for Hospice of the Piedmont
  • Clareen Wiencek, palliative care nurse practitioner, associate professor and conference moderator

Special thanks to UVA Health's chief nursing officer Mary Dixon, who allowed UVA nurses time off and covered their registration costs to attend this conference.

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