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Life's Final Journey: The Oncology Nurse's Role

Cheryl A. Fairbrother
Judith A. Paice
CJON 2005, 9(5), 575-579 DOI: 10.1188/05.CJON.575-579

Despite advances in technology and science, many people diagnosed with cancer are likely to die from the disease. Because of the long-term relationships that oncology nurses develop with patients and their families during lengthy treatment periods, they are the most appropriate clinicians to provide care across the continuum and through the final journey. Care of patients in the final days of life requires a comprehensive knowledge of common syndromes, skillful assessment, and adept clinical management. Nurses cannot focus solely on the needs of patients; family members often are unaware of the dying process. Oncology nurses are uniquely qualified to provide education and support to families at the bedside witnessing the final days and hours of their loved ones. Finally, oncology nurses involved in the care of dying patients are at risk for burnout and need to provide care for their own needs to find balance between their professional and personal lives.

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