Suffering: Ethical and Practical Challenges

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Instructor: Donna Helen Crisp

Length: 3 to 6 hours

Suffering is the great challenge in healthcare today. It is an ethical as well as a practical challenge. To witness a patient's suffering engenders an ethical obligation to the nurse or physician to reduce that suffering. Wherever there are patients, there is suffering, mostly invisible, unacknowledged, and unattended. With education, healthcare providers can learn to appreciate the nuances of patient suffering as well as how to ameliorate it. This presentation includes an overview of suffering, and how to recognize and deal with suffering in patient settings. Recent studies show that, even with the increased awareness around end-of-life issues in the last decade, many patients still greatly suffer at the end of their lives. Research shows that at least one in four children (and at least half of older adults) suffers with chronic conditions which impact their quality of life. To fully understand suffering and thereby help increase an individual's quality of life, one must learn to see the suffering, whether in a child, an elder, or a dying person. At the end of this program participants will be able to:

  • Explain how human emotional suffering involves the individual's whole personhood, beyond mere "body" or "pain"
  • Identify sources, characteristics, and solutions to suffering in healthcare settings
  • Recognize the suffering of nurses and other healthcare providers; and Understand how compassionate presence renders a healing experience, and thus a diminishment of suffering, for both patient and nurse.

Audience: Nursing, mental health, all health care professionals