Spending time with the dying is not fundamental to nurse training, partly because there are not enough clinical settings to provide the experience. The End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium, a project of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, has provided training in palliative care to some 15,000 nurses and nursing instructors around the nation since 2000, focusing not just on pain management but also on how to help terminally ill patients and their families prepare for death.
In addition, some students do rotations with hospice nurses, said Pam Malloy, the project’s director. But Ms. Malloy said that nursing schools still do not focus on end-of-life care nearly as much as they should. “We live in a death-denying society, and that includes nursing,” she said. “People have begun to understand it’s important, but we’re nowhere where we need to be at this point.”