By Erin Dunphy, RN
Care Dimensions Hospice Nurse Resident
Care Dimensions launched a new hospice nurse residency program in August 2015. A one-of-a-kind program, it gives nurses without experience in hospice additional classroom and in the field training to prepare them to succeed as a hospice nurse. I’m excited to be one of the lucky ones in the first class. Other nurses in the program are a mix of new nursing graduates and experienced nurses who are all new to hospice. Although I did recently work at a long-term care facility, I’m one of the new grads in the program because I’ve had my nursing license for less than a year. Like some of the others in the program, I first became interested in hospice and palliative care because I had a family member on hospice services and it was a really positive experience. Also, having worked at a long-term care facility, I was able to see firsthand how hospice services can really benefit a patient at end of life.
We are about eight weeks into the program now and it’s a great mix of classroom and clinical learning. Classroom lectures have been on a wide variety of topics including pain and symptom management, documentation, care planning, regulatory standards, difficult conversations, structuring the home visit, bereavement, cultural sensitivity, and ethics, to name a few. We have also been able to spend many hours training on the charting software that nurses use in the field. Other components of classroom learning include case studies and book group discussions, as well as a day at Regis College’s Clinical Resource and Simulation Center where we simulated home visit scenarios.
Hospice requires many different disciplines to work together to care for the patient and the family. For that reason, we have each gone out and shadowed different Care Dimensions staff in the field. I have spent a day with a hospice aide, an admissions nurse, a social worker, a chaplain, a nurse practitioner, and a palliative care physician. It has been really helpful to see the different roles that each member of the interdisciplinary team plays in caring for the patient and family. I’ve also spent some time with nurses who visit patients at home and a nurse who visits patients in long-term care and assisted living facilities. It has been interesting to see how the settings compare to one another.
We’ve been really fortunate in the nurse residency program to also be able to spend time at Care Dimensions’ inpatient Kaplan Family Hospice House. There, we work with the staff nurses to care for patients who are experiencing symptoms that are too difficult to manage at home, such as a pain crisis. This has allowed us to become more experienced with the medications and tools used to help make a patient more comfortable.
I’m grateful to everyone at Care Dimensions for making the new nurses feel welcome. There seems to be a lot of excitement around the nurse residency program. I am looking forward to spending time in the field with my nurse preceptor in the coming weeks and putting some of this new knowledge to work.
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