continuing education, heart failure, hospital nurses, palliative care



  1. Zapka, Jane G. ScD
  2. Hennessy, Winnie RN, MS
  3. Carter, Rickey E. PhD
  4. Amella, Elaine J. PhD, APRN, BC


Heart failure is a high prevalence, high burden disease with an unpredictable trajectory. Given that approximately 50% of persons with the diagnosis die within 5 years, the implications for communication about advance planning and end of life, although simultaneously providing hope and treatment, are extremely challenging. This article reports on a feasibility trial of a modest continuing education seminar to increase awareness and communication skills of inpatient nurses. Curriculum design details, including objectives and methods, are described. Needs assessment and evaluation data are reported. At the 2-month posttest, a summary communications skill score showed significant improvement. Data also illustrated that the challenge of facing issues about dying are complicated by a work force of relatively young staff and low exposure to few actual deaths during relatively short lengths of stay.