In the United States, palliative care is recognized as an essential component of healthcare. By managing the symptoms of patients with chronic diseases and serious illnesses, palliative care providers help improve quality of life by managing pain or other severe impairments. Palliative care providers assist patients and families in the coordination of care and in the process of making difficult care decisions. They also help foster collaboration within an interdisciplinary medical team. In much of the Middle East, however, the term palliative care is not yet widely recognized in academic literature or integrated in the plan of care for patients with chronic disease or at the end of life.
Recently, a group of five nurse practitioners from the Oncology Nursing Society, supported by a grant from the Nation Cancer Institute, were asked by the Oncology Nursing Society and Middle Eastern Cancer Consortium to travel to Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey to conduct a foundational course in palliative care for nurses from various countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Among those nurse practitioners was Julie Vosit-Steller, DNP FNP-BC AOCN, from Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Palliative Care Consult Service.
Vosit-Steller, who is also an associate professor at Simmons College, says of the group of nurse practitioners, “All of us have international experience teaching palliative care.” They came together to give presentations on a wide range of topics, including symptom management, the psychosocial and spiritual components of palliative care, palliative care structures, setting up palliative care service and caring for the caregiver. It was important that all of the material was delivered in a culturally appropriate and sensitive format. After each session, each member of the team led smaller groups in break-out discussions. It was in the small groups that more intimate conversation and in-depth understanding of translating knowledge into their own practice occurred.
To learn more about Vosit-Steller’s experiences, visit the Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital news page.