Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Health Services


Cathleen Colleran-Santos


Nursing Care for Terminal Patients in Intensive Care Units


Pervell Dunbar

Project Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Walden University

August 2015

Although the goal of the ICU has always been to save lives, ICU now additionally provides end-of life (EOL) care. The objective of this project was to provide ICU nurses with a comprehensive awareness of physical, emotional, and spiritual EOL care issues of patients and their families in order to be better equipped to handle EOL care. The framework used was Jean Watson's Caring model (10 Caritas). A literature review revealed a poster previously used by a major health organization as a conversation starter to facilitate decision-making among ICU nurses, EOL patients, and their families related to EOL issues. The purpose of this quality improvement initiative was to introduce and implement an educational EOL tool that would engage patients and family members in meaningful and useful conversations with ICU nurses. Twenty seven ICU nurses were selected by the unit's director to attend a PowerPoint presentation on the use of the EOL educational poster. Four ICU nurses were chosen by the director to be champions for this project. After the presentation, there was a period for questions and answers, and the ICU nurses were requested to give feedback on the presentation. The result from the feedback revealed that EOL care is outside previous practice and may require extra education and support. These comments substantiated similar conclusions from other researchers as described in this paper. With an increase in EOL training for ICU nurses and the implementation of EOL teaching tools like the poster used in this study, ICU nurses may be better able to have conversations with EOL patients and families, thus improving patient care.