Recommendations to Leverage the Palliative Nursing Role During COVID-19 and Future Public Health Crises

William E. Rosa, PhD, MBE, ACHPN, FAANP, FAAN; Tamryn F. Gray, PhD, RN; Kimberly Chow, RN, ANP-BC, ACHPN; Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, RN, FAAN; J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, PhD, MSN, MA, ACHPN, FPCN; Viola Karanja, BSN, RN; Judy Khanyola, MSc, RCHN; Julius D. N. Kpoeh, ASN, RN; Joseph Lusaka, BSc HM, DCM, PA; Samuel T. Matula, PhD, RN, PCNS-BC; Polly Mazanec, PhD, AOCN, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN; Patricia J. Moreland, PhD, CPNP, FAAN; Shila Pandey, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, ACHPN; Amisha Parekh de Campos, PhD, MPH, CHPN; Salimah H. Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN


Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. 2020;22(4):260-269. 

In This Article


The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed numerous lives worldwide, presenting unique challenges to all of society, especially to the health care system and those working in palliative care. At the same time, this crisis offers an opportunity to reimagine the benefits of full palliative care integration to mitigate the effects of this and future health crises for patients, families, and communities. COVID-19 will continue to change the way nurses and other multidisciplinary clinicians provide palliative care in the coming weeks and months. In addition, there is an urgent need to raise the profile and status of nursing as the frontline responders to individuals and families worldwide.

Strategic and consistent investment in palliative nurses and nursing during COVID-19 will strengthen the broader health system's resilience and capacity to respond effectively to future pandemics and public health crises. Leveraging palliative nurses' unique talents and skill sets will also require close attention to their well-being throughout the trajectory of this pandemic. The success of current and future national and international efforts to effectively mitigate COVID-19 and other future health crises in large part depends on strengthening the nursing workforce, developing and integrating palliative nurses as a vital component of this response, and ensuring all nurses are central to decision-making and preparedness.

Palliative care is meant to be an active and comprehensive form of medical care that addresses the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of a patient's disease experience. The palliative nursing role is central to the goal of understanding how illness affects patients' lives and how patients and families can find meaning and growth during the pervasive and inevitable uncertainty resultant of the COVID-19 emergency. Palliative nurses and their contributions should be fully integrated and leveraged in the face of this public health crisis and amid the inevitability of future pandemics.