A comparison of methodologies used to teach end-of-life care to baccalaureate nursing students : which provides the best outcome?.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Medical Humanities


Individuals facing serious life-threatening illnesses and approaching death deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion. They deserve to receive care that focuses on the individuals goals for care. Their families need and deserve to receive support as well. Unfortunately, the way end of life is handled in today's medical settings has much to do with what healthcare professionals consider to be their obligation, not only what such obligations are, but also to whom they are owed. Much has been written about the limited amount of end-of-life care education and training medical and nursing students receive in their respective programs in the United States. Research on end-of-life care instruction in baccalaureate nursing programs in the State of New Jersey shows that many programs integrate the subject of death and dying into their curriculum. Currently, only two programs have courses that are specifically on end-of life. Thus, a great majority of nursing students graduate without sufficient instruction on end-of-life care or have ever taken care of a patient who is in the stages of dying. Nurses take care of patients who are sick and patients who are dying; it is surprising that little attention is given to a subject that is so important to the human spirit. Nurses need to have preparation in order to achieve an understanding of the dynamics that occur when a patient is dying. They need to be able to care for the patient and the family during this crucial time. Our students are not being given the fundamental knowledge or the clinical experiences that will allow them to achieve a comfort level in this area. This dissertation compares two methodologies used in teaching end-of-life care to determine which provides the best outcome for learning.