AACN: End-of-Life Care Curriculum

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

Palliative and End-of-Life Nursing Care

Palliative and end-of-life care curriculum design and development for its continuing education (CE) program



The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) needed a course covering palliative and end-of-life care for its continuing education (CE) curricula. It chose Enspire to create a virtual hospital where nurses could practice these essential skills.

The Challenge

Nurses are often tapped to provide palliative and end-of-life care and emotional support for patients and families. In these cases, inexperienced nurses may falter and fail to apply evidence-based best practices and standards of care. To provide nurses with necessary real-world experience, AACN sought to create an e-learning course populated with authentic virtual characters and plausible hospital situations.

The Solution

Enspire created an AACN Virtual Hospital, in which nurse learners become part of the staff to collaborate in palliative and end-of-life care situations. In this safe experimental realm, nurses learn and practice care delivery to prepare for real-world care. Nurses hone palliative skills, make decisions about interventions, interact with dying patients and distraught family members, see the results of their actions, and learn from mistakes with immediate feedback.

To impart gravity and maximize realism, Enspire partnered with professional filmmakers and actors to provide authentic portrayals of the technical and emotional challenges end-of-life care poses, and shot on-site in a Level I trauma hospital. Learners review patients’ files before entering their rooms, monitor patients’ symptoms, and provide care based on assessments. The expert degree of detail and raw emotion of each patient narrative creates an authentic virtual reality.

Critical-care nurses must be able to step away from stressful situations and decompress. Learners choose their custom stress-reducing activity to keep the health meter close to 100%. A mentor character guides the learners at first, but soon allows them to explore the hospital and apply their knowledge independently, thereby raising their confidence.

AACN uses the course as part of the continuing education (CE) accreditation process. AACN reports the training has increased nurse confidence when delivering palliative and end-of-life care, and that nurses are better able to serve patients and their loved ones.

This course was recognized with several industry awards, including a Gold Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Award.

More Of Our Work