The Role of Senior Nurses in Caring for Terminal Patients

February 8, 2022

Nurses play a pivotal role in the healthcare sector because of the patients’ closest and most important engagement. From traditional bed care to the advocacy for patients and their families, their roles in healthcare can never be ignored. 

Even with nurses outnumbering the doctors by 3 to 1, they are still among the highest-demand professionals in the healthcare sector. This demand is fueled by the ongoing pandemic, aging baby boomers, and terminal care patients. 

These groups make up the largest segment in the sector, yet healthcare is still experiencing shortages of staff at the global level.

Significantly, the cases of terminal care patients require nurses to offer end-of-life care to the patients and guidance to their families. Since nurses are considered the most trusted and affectionate individuals in healthcare, nurses roles are expanding to another level. 

To fill the rising demand for experienced nurses, existing nurses must acquire new skills to apply them across various specialties in healthcare organizations. This is possible by earning professional education programs. With online education becoming the dominant option for advancing in the career, there are various opportunities for the nurses to acquire the essential skills. 

For instance, aspirants can pursue a master’s in nursing online without letting it affect work responsibilities. Pursuing a higher educational degree guarantees career progression and more challenging roles in the future. 

Since the end of life requires the support of nurses, there are various roles that senior nurses contribute to comfort terminal patients. With that said, let’s discuss the role of senior nurses in providing healthcare to terminal patients. 

1. Emotional Support

One of the top contributions of nurses in terminal patient care is emotional support. The reality of the patient’s life-ending day by day is extremely difficult for both patient and the family. They are experiencing a mixture of emotional situation that worsens their health and pain. 

Meanwhile, senior nurses are the only professionals who stand to offer support and soothe the dying person. Not only for the patient, but the situation of patients’ health also takes a toll on the lives of their families. 

Nurses offer emotional support to the family to help them understand the problematic situation and cope with stress. 

Some people also face challenges on how to understand or comfort themselves when their loved one is dying. However, nurses actively take the stand to communicate with them.

Especially in the ongoing situation of COVID-19, many families are left isolated because of restrictions. They couldn’t meet their loved ones in terminal care that makes them feel overwhelmed. 

In this case, nurses helped patients and their families with video conferencing to help them connect. Senior nurses with a background in professional education are well aware of how to engage with terminal patients while ensuring positivity. 

They would express themselves openly to allow the patients to express their feelings easily. 

2. Necessary Medical Care

Terminal patients mainly depart after fighting with a life-ending disease. However, that does not mean they should not receive the necessary medical care. Senior nurses are the best fit for hands-on care to terminal patients to relieve their pain and stress. 

Medical care is still crucial to help terminal patients are pain-free. This hands-on skill includes tracking the vital signs and providing medical treatment to comfort the patients. 

Senior nurses plan this out by performing assessments of the patient’s physical and emotional status. This way, they create a plan of care to manage their pain without worsening their health situation. 

Moreover, they would also follow the evidence-based practices of the terminal patients to minimize errors. Considering the pain they are already experiencing, nurses will administer pain relief medication to terminal patients. 

In short, senior nurses provide all kinds of treatment on priority to dying patients while maintaining their dignity.

3. Communication 

 Communication is critical for success in the career of nursing. But it is also important to exchange information with the patients and families. Senior nurses acquire exceptional communication skills from the professional degree programs. 

These programs enable the nurses to consider a personalized approach for each terminal patient. This way, nurses can communicate realistically and relieve the stress of the patients. They are aware of the facts of how to start the communication and also maintaining positive body language. 

Not just the patient, but senior nurses are responsible for being a messenger between the patient and family. Along with patients, families also feel isolated and unsure about what their loved one is experiencing. 

Senior nurses significantly help these families to address the emotions and feelings of the terminal patients. 

4. Education

Since nurses use communication in most daily activities, they perform this role beyond just exchanging information. Today, senior nurses also provide healthcare education and guidance to the patient and families. 

When it comes to the subject of death, communication indeed becomes uncomfortable to talk about. However, to accept the expected end of life, nurses must provide necessary information to help the patient and family. 

This guidance helps families understand how the illness affects their loved one and what decision they can take to provide relief to their loved ones. 


Navigating through the end of life and other challenges is indeed unsettling for anyone. However, nurses are prominently helping the sector with the dedication to support and educate the patients and families. 

These professionals are well aware of handling ethical dilemmas while striving to improve the life of terminally ill patients.

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