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Short report

Case study

Multi-level classroom learning prepares nurses for future collaboration in palliative care:

an educational initiative

Heidi Mason, Deborah M Price, April Bigelow and Karen Harden


Background: Palliative care (PC) education should be an important part of both the graduate and undergraduate nursing curriculum. Nursing’s philosophy of holistic care, which aims to improve the quality of life of patients and families, aligns with the primary objective of PC, positioning nurses to take the lead in expanding and improving PC delivery to all patients with a life-threatening diagnosis. The best way to facilitate this level of care is when staff nurses and advanced practice nurses work collaboratively. Aim: To establish a new standard for nursing education that emphasises intradisciplinary care. Methods: To fill the gap in PC education for nursing students, a dedicated elective PC class was developed for undergraduate and graduate students at a large midwestern University in the United States. Findings: Through an interactive approach to learning, both groups were able to experience and more fully understand how they would work collaboratively with each other to provide high-quality PC. Conclusions: Intradisciplinary PC education is an opportunity for students to learn the precepts of PC in an environment that will mirror their post-graduation practice environment.

Key words: l collaborative l palliative care l education l multi-level l classroom lthcare Ltd


2022 MA


Intradisciplinary education can be a powerful tool to advance the nursing profession. Intradisciplinary is defined as different levels of people working together within the same discipline. Multi-level education is defined as multiple levels of the same discipline being educated together (Merriam-Webster, 2022). Since undergraduate- and graduate-level students will work together upon completion of their education, combining Bachelor of Science (BSN) and Master of Science (MSN) classes and simulation experiences can prepare students to work in this collaborative environment (Broglio and Bookbinder, 2014; Shifrin et al, 2019). Multi-level education offers undergraduate nursing students the opportunity to perfect their skills, improve their communication, enhance role development and gain confidence as they work with MSN students. In turn, graduate students learn the importance of working collaboratively with nurses while gaining valuable management skills as they transition into bedside nurses (Lloyd and Bristol, 2006;

Shifrin et al, 2019; George et al, 2020; House and Hallman, 2020).

Offering a blended, multi-level class to undergraduate and graduate nursing students can be particularly valuable in palliative care (PC) education. The World Health Organization (WHO) (2020) defines PC as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing a life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and treatment of physical, psychosocial, and spiritual problems. PC is appropriate at all stages of disease, including during aggressive treatment with curative intent (WHO, 2020). Therefore, nurses at every level need to be competent in delivering basic PC services and know when and how to refer for more complex cases. The literature supports the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to PC (WHO, 2020). While this usually refers to combining medical, pharmacy, social work, dietician and nursing education,

Heidi Mason Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Michigan, US Deborah M Price Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Michigan, US April Bigelow Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Michigan, US Karen Harden Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Michigan, US Correspondence to:

International Journal of Palliative Nursing  September 2022  Vol 28, No 9


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