A Framework for Integrating Oncology Palliative Care in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Education
Journal of Professional Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) faculty play a critical role in preparing students to meet the complex needs of the nation as the number of cancer rates and survivors rise (National Cancer Institute, 2018) and as an unprecedented number of older Americans enter into the healthcare system with complicated comorbidities (Whitehead, 2016). Palliative care has dramatically expanded over the past decade and has been increasingly accepted as a standard of care for people with cancer and other serious, chronic, or life-limiting illnesses. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are recognized as important providers of palliative care (Walling et al., 2017). A 2-day course was held with support from the National Cancer Institute to enhance integration of palliative oncology care into DNP curriculum. The course participants (N = 183), consisting of DNP faculty or deans, practicing DNP clinicians, and students, received detailed annotated slides, case studies, and suggested activities to increase student engagement with the learning process. Course content was developed and delivered by palliative care experts and DNP faculty skilled in curriculum design. Participants were required to develop goals on how to enhance their school's DNP curriculum with the course content. They provided updates regarding their progress at integrating the content into their school's curriculum at 6, 12, and 18 months post course. Results demonstrated an increase in incorporating oncology palliative care in DNP scholarly projects and clinical opportunities. Challenges to inclusion of this content in DNP curricula included lack of: perceived time in curriculum; faculty educated in palliative care; and available clinical sites.