As a nursing student, I often feel anxious and nervous when I care for a dying patient. My classroom lectures have been similar to those given in medical school—death is an enemy to be conquered. We focus on treating the disease process and give very little attention to death and dying.
That’s from a letter to the editor now online in our February issue. The article the letter writer was responding to was “Stopping Eating and Drinking,” which we published back in September. The article is about an end-of-life option that is a choice available to patients who aren’t “actively dying” but who have experienced a radical diminution in their quality of life. It’s also about what a nurse legally and ethically should and should not discuss with a patient.
The notion of a nurse advising a patient on stopping eating and drinking is a potentially controversial one, but the responses we received were surprisingly unalarmed that we would publish such an article. Here’s another letter we got in response. We love to hear from our readers, whether in the old print format or here on the blog.