CONTACT: DEREK MAURER
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8964; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: Feb. 26, 2002
UI nursing faculty to develop Web-based course on end-of-life issues
University of Iowa College of Nursing faculty have received a grant to develop
a Web-based course on end-of-life care. The goal of the new course initially
will be to educate nursing and other health professional students at the UI
about issues surrounding care for older adults approaching death and for their
families; it likely will be offered to practicing nurses and others in the
The three-year, $90,000 award comes from the John A. Hartford Foundation
of New York and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Paula Mobily,
Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at the UI, is principal investigator
for the project. Mobily also serves as education coordinator for the Hartford
Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence, which is based at the UI College
"We have faculty with strong backgrounds in pain management and end-of-life
care as well as ties with experts in palliative care throughout the country,"
Mobily said. "We plan to capitalize on these resources to carry out this
In addition to Mobily, UI nursing faculty involved in development of the
course are Keela Herr, Ph.D., professor; Jo Eland, Ph.D., associate professor;
Paula Forest, clinical assistant professor; Kristine Kwekkeboom, Ph.D., assistant
professor; Meridean Maas, Ph.D., professor; Sheryl Miller, lecturer; and Deborah
Schoenfelder, Ph.D., clinical associate professor. The project team also will
ask faculty in other disciplines to contribute their ideas concerning course
Although health providers and the public have gained considerable awareness
of end-of-life issues in recent years, reports and studies indicate older
adults often don't receive adequate care at life's end. Mobily and her colleagues
attribute this not to a lack of effective therapies but to the fact that many
health professionals simply don't know the latest and best available practices.
Management of pain and other symptoms, ethical and legal issues, and the needs
of family care givers all play an important role in caring for dying elders,
Mobily said. Other key elements of the course content include the application
of research evidence to support bedside care decisions and consideration of
the role of interdisciplinary teams in caring for dying elders and their families.
"Students have a lot of interest in this," Mobily said, noting
that some nursing students have formed an end-of-life interest group, "but
to this point there haven't been any formal courses available." This
will be the college's first stand-alone course on end-of-life care. Currently,
end-of-life issues are covered as units within a gerontological nursing course,
an oncology elective and a gerontology practicum includes a highly sought-after
Mobily expects development of course content to take a year. After that,
it will be offered to undergraduate and gerontology nurse practitioner students
for credit. The course also will be available to students in related health
"End-of-life care education is becoming an important initiative nationwide,"
Mobily said. "The unique character of our offering is that it's Web-based.
This method for delivering the course content will make it accessible for
many different types of learners." Web-specific educational strategies
for the course will include the identification of links to information about
topics covered in the class, on-line posting of required readings and case
studies, bulletin board and chat room discussions on relevant subjects and
topical discussions moderated by recognized experts in end-of-life care.
Mobily said the course will continue after the three-year funding period
ends. She and her colleagues also plan to adapt it for practicing nurses and
other health professionals. One group in particular that could benefit from
Web-based instruction, Mobily said, is nurses who work in long-term care facilities,
where staffing concerns and long distances limit the ability of nurses to
attend off-site classes. The college also hopes to market the course statewide
through the Iowa Association of Colleges of Nursing, and regionally to six
universities affiliated with the Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence.
Project faculty will explore the possibility of national and international
outreach as well, Mobily said.
The project is funded through the Geriatric Nursing Education Project, a
collaborative effort by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
and the Hartford Foundation. The AACN represents 556 member schools offering
baccalaureate and higher degrees in nursing and sponsors numerous programs,
including the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium. The John A. Hartford
Foundation, established in 1929, promotes programs addressing health and aging
issues and distributes about $20 million a year in grants. In 1997, New York
University established the John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric
Nursing with funding from the foundation. The organization also has spearheaded
efforts to improve patient care through its Best Practices initiatives.