I know this is becoming somewhat of a recurring theme, but again I am finding it so hard to pick a favourite nursing topic as I genuinely enjoy them all.
At Glasgow Caledonian University, where I am currently a student nurse, our academic year is built around five modules, on top of our placements, which develop each year as we progress through our studies. These are values-based nursing practice, evidence-based practice, interprofessional practice, professional skills for practice (which includes physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology), and our specific nursing module that relates to our field, which in my case is adult nursing.
My favourite subject this year was our adult nursing module, Anticipatory and Alternative Approaches to Adult Nursing. This module was built around case studies of patients living with the chronic conditions of COPD, heart failure and diabetes. We discussed the role of the nurse when caring for a patient throughout their illness trajectory, which included exploring strategies to support them in their homes, early interventions, and better access to safe and effective alternatives to avoid unnecessary hospital admission. We also identified appropriate responses to crises, deterioration in condition, and end-of-life care.
The reason I enjoyed this module so much was it encompassed elements of all our other modules, bringing them together in a such a way that we could utilise our critical thinking skills. It required us to fully understand the pathophysiology of each condition in addition to the pharmacology behind its treatment. We also had to identify the best, most up-to-date evidence, the role of the rest of the interprofessional team, and how we could use our values-based nursing skills to educate patients and navigate difficult conversations. I am looking forward to the next stage of our nursing module in my third year, Adult Nursing to Empower, Enhance and Enable Person Centred Care.
Palliative & End-of-Life Care
Throughout my studies, I have developed a keen interest in palliative and end-of-life care, which this year’s nursing module, alongside my experiences on placement, has only served to intensify. From my experience, not enough is known about effective palliative care, and some nurses often refer to specialists for fear of not understanding how to manage long-term conditions best. I believe it is vital that nurses can distinguish between palliative and end-of-life care, as often the two are confused. End-of-life care is an element of palliative care, but it is not all palliative care encompasses.
The Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill (2010) defines palliative care as “treatment which controls and relieves pain, discomfort or other symptoms caused by or related to a life-limiting condition with the intention of improving quality of life”. The Scottish Government (2015) adds that “palliative care is not just about care in the last days and hour of life, but about ensuring the quality of life for both the person and their family at every stage of the life-limiting disease process from diagnosis onwards”. No one should have to live in pain or symptomatic discomfort, and as nurses, we should always strive to improve or at least maintain the quality of life, which is why quality palliative care is so critical and is an area I have become interested in.
Dignified, respectful end-of-life care, which respects the wishes of the person and their loved ones is also essential. Death is an eventuality for all of us, and we should all be able to live out our last days and hours as we choose. Wherever possible we should be respecting the patient’s preferred location to receive end-of-life care and should have an anticipatory care plan put in place for when deterioration occurs.
So that’s been my favourite nursing subject this year, and my developing professional interest. I look forward to reading about your favourite nursing topics.