1. Ferrell, Betty PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN

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At a recent End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) course, I was speaking with Cheryl Thaxton, RN, MN, CPNP-PC, the Pediatric Nurse Program Coordinator for the Quality of Life Program at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In this role, Cheryl has worked tirelessly to develop palliative care for seriously ill children and their families. As we spoke, Cheryl used the words "the sweet essence of pediatric palliative care." The immediate image in my mind was the subtle, spiritual presence of nurses who are so profoundly present to influence care while maintaining a subtle absence so as not to interrupt the sacred last hours and days of life reserved for the privacy of children and their families. I asked Cheryl if she could say more about this "sweet essence," and she shared:


This sweet essence should indeed serve as the driving force that keeps our actions, words, clinical practices, facial expressions, gestures, and overall intentions toward these wonderful patients and their families pure and above all compassionate. It's this sweet essence that should capture the attention of those who contact us for palliative care consults and support, whether inpatient or outpatient. The sweet essence of palliative care nursing should be as pleasant as one can imagine[horizontal ellipsis]it should be transformational within the lives of all who are part of the end of life care experience for any pediatric patient.


Cheryl is a model of a certified pediatric palliative care nurse. She is setting the standard for the profession as a clinician, educator, and national leader. Beyond her work at Duke University, Cheryl is passionately committed to improving palliative care throughout her community because of her deep concern for children who return to other areas where pediatric palliative care services are not available. She is leading a pediatric palliative nursing course provided to her community to meet this need. That is the "sweet essence" of palliative nursing.


Our profession of palliative nursing is advancing in many ways. With every issue of this journal, I am reminded of our evolving evidence base, the research that is strengthening our practice, and the quality improvement efforts that are ever strengthening the care we provide. But I am also reminded of the essence the compassion and the commitment that nursing care contributes within the interdisciplinary team. In an era of enormous financial constraints, burdens, and demands, nurses are steadfast in maintaining the focus on the patient and family. Thanks to nurses like Cheryl Thaxton and nurses who share their work through the journal, that sweet essence continues.


Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN