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Hospice nursing: A slower pace of care

By: Julie Cullen

It had never occurred to me before, but it makes perfect sense—hospice care moves at a slower pace than typical nursing. Nurses (and patients) have all experienced the fast, efficient movement’s of nurses performing care tasks. I’ve always been impressed by how some nurses can still stay engaged with their patients while moving at such a clip and having to pay attention to the details of I.V. lines, wound care, vital signs.

In an article I read recently in the New Yorker, the author focuses on the difference between the brisk efficiency of usual nursing care and the almost deliberate slowness of caring for patients in hospice. That slow pace allows nurses to linger with their patients—chatting, sitting quietly, offering to do small chores—while still attending to their medical needs. That time gives family members a much-deserved break and a chance to share concerns. And, in some cases, time spent with the hospice nurse provides patients and their families with an opportunity to connect with someone other than each other.

I recommend taking some time to read this article to hear from several nurses who shared their stories. You’ll also learn a little hospice history.

Throughout February, the American Nurse Today website will features content about hospice care. You’ll find stories from hospice nurses, information about how you can become a hospice and palliative care nurse, and resources you can share with patients and families. And if you work in hospice care, we welcome your stories and insights. Email me at jcullen@healthcommedia.com.

Julie Cullen, managing editor of American Nurse Today and a curator of online content for the American Nurse Today website, is most definitely not a nurse, but she admires what all of you do everyday. In her Off the Charts blog she shares some of her experiences as a patient and family member of patients, thoughts and ideas that occur to her during her work editing nursing content, and information she thinks you might find interesting. Julie welcomes your feedback. You can submit a comment on the website or email her at jcullen@healthcommedia.com.

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