Teaching Communication and Compassion at the End of Life

A live simulation helps students from Kent State's nursing program and NEOMED learn about caring for patients and their families as they say goodbye.

This morning, nearly 300 students, about 130 junior nursing students from Kent State's College of Nursing and 160 second-year medical students from Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), assembled in the Kent Student Center ballroom to experience an interdisciplinary teaching simulation about end-of-life care. 

Dana M. Hansen, Ph.D, APRN, ACHPN, is an associate professor at Kent State and co-director of the university's Ph.D. program in the College of Nursing. She believes that learning about how to interact for patients and their families during a supremely difficult and emotional time is essential for healthcare professionals. 

“This interdisciplinary experience was important as it nurtures and develops communication and empathy skills needed for caring for patients and their families at the end of life."

"Through both the online educational content and the live forum theatre delivery/simulation, the aim was to have learners find effective strategies for dealing with personal emotions that build the professional resilience and confidence during end-of-life patient and family encounters," Hansen said.

This learning opportunity is tied to the CAREOL research project, "Catalyzing Relationships at the End of Life: Supporting Families through Final Conversion," on which Hansen is the principal investigator. The faculty research team from Kent State University’s College of Nursing was recently funded with a President's Grant by the prestigious Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. The goal of their study is to help ensure the competencies of new healthcare providers to facilitate vital family communication at the end of life.