Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2019

Document Type



von Oldenburg, N. (2019). Does Healthcare Education Adequately Prepare Clinicians for End of Life Conversations? Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Natalie von Oldenburg 2019.


End of life (EOL) comes with a variety of physical, emotional, and social concerns for both patients and their families. Often, healthcare workers must hold conversations regarding these issues with little formal education to prepare them. There appears to be a lack of defined curriculum regarding end of life, palliative care, and communication skills for beginning end of life conversations. A qualitative study involving interviews with sixteen clinicians was conducted to gauge the amount and quality of end of life education they received and how that translated into their own careers. While some clinicians received a great deal of guidance on EOL issues and communication, the exposure tended to be a result of specialization in a field that focuses on EOL or being paired with a mentor that valued the topic. Many others only received very introductory level information on the topic and were forced to “learn on the job”. The gaps in education and the need for more formal EOL education is relevant due to the large cohort of aging adults that will require the services of clinicians at the end of life.