Courage, Leadership, and End-of-Life Care

When Courage Counts

Karlene M. Kerfoot, PhD, RN, CNAA, FAAN


Nurs Econ. 2012;30(3):176-178. 

In This Article

Courage and End-of-Life Care

As leaders, we must feel a sense of moral obligation to implement evidence about end-of-life care in our practice settings. To do otherwise is to knowingly prevent patients and families access to the best care available, exposes our nursing staff to serious ethical dilemmas, and unnecessarily consumes valuable resources for futile care. Nurses in management and administrative roles regularly toggle between (a) the need to provide the best care for patients and families, (b) creating healthy work environments for nurses and caregivers, and (c) the obligations to perform well in the business aspects of health care. This is a difficult balance and must be attended to at all times to be a successful leader. End-of-life issues create great angst for leaders. This is where courage counts.

The courageous leaders in end-of-life care focus on four leadership pillars: (a) best care for patients and their families, (b) best care for the nursing and other staff who care for patients at the end of life, (c) developing systems that support the best care in end-of-life situations in our organizations, and (d) our communities and nation. We are not as good as we can be with end-of-life care. It will take the courage of leaders to advocate for implementing known evidence in the face of many obstacles within the health care system.


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