Our Nurse of the Week is Clareen Wiencek, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Virginia (UVA) who is helping drive new education in the area of palliative care. Palliative care provides relief from the symptoms and stress that come with a serious illness, and many doctors have misconceptions about the practice. Wiencek hopes that UVA’s new courses on delivering palliative care will enable nurses to alleviate those misconceptions.

Wiencek tells News.Virginia.edu, “The myth persists that it’s a binary choice, that you either choose full treatment or palliative care. You can’t have both simultaneously. And in reality, they can be offered simultaneously. So, an oncologist is treating someone’s cancer. The palliative care clinician is helping manage their symptoms, their pain…Both can work together.”

Our rapidly aging country, with a longer-living Baby Boomer generation, is demanding more palliative care. UVA Nursing intends to help meet that need with a new pair of courses designed to equip nursing students to deliver expert palliative care.

Wiencek will be teaching a graduate-level big-picture course on palliative care this fall, titled Palliative Care: The Discipline. In the spring, Kenneth White, UVA Nursing’s associate dean for strategic partnerships and innovation, will be teaching a follow-up course on Advanced Pain and Symptom Management.

Wiencek wants to move away from the idea that palliative care equates to end-of-life care or hospice care. According to her it’s much, much more than that. It can help patients live for months and years while feeling better, functioning better, and accomplishing what they want to while living with a serious illness.

To learn more about UVA nursing professor Clareen Wiencek and her upcoming course on palliative care, visit here.

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