In September 2014, ONS hosted a successful congressional briefing on palliative care and the role of the oncology nurse in Washington, DC. As a result of the briefing, five additional representatives have signed on to the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, an ONS-supported bill.
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ONS Hosts Congressional Briefing on Palliative Care
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
On Thursday, September 18, the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) hosted a congressional briefing on “Palliative Care and the Role of the Oncology Nurse” at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC.
ONS Executive Director of External Affairs and Business Development, Michele Dietz, RN, MSN, was the emcee, and the panel included keynote speaker and ONS member Laura Fennimore, PhD, RN. Attendees of the briefing included Congressional staff, including House leadership and Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair staff, two members of Congress, and nursing, cancer, and healthcare coalition partners. U.S. Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), sponsor of H.R. 1339: Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), sponsor of H.R. 1666: Patient Centered Quality Care for Life Act, each spoke, acknowledging ONS by name and the role of the oncology nurse in the cancer treatment process.
Palliative care is a relatively new medical specialty focused on improving a patient’s quality of life by providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. Drawing from expert knowledge in its Emerging Trends in Palliative Care conferences, the ONS briefing discussed the increasing importance of education, training, and research in this field. As a result of the briefing, five additional members of Congress signed onto the palliative care legislation.
The briefing also leveraged the Institute of Medicine's 2014 report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life, which supports the need for palliative care education that could help relieve a burdened healthcare system already troubled by factors that hamper delivery of high-quality care near the end of life.
H.R. 1339: Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act seeks to increase the number of permanent faculty in palliative care at nursing schools, allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, and other interdisciplinary fields relating to palliative care. It also establishes fellowship programs that provide short-term intensive courses on palliative care to upgrade faculty members’ knowledge and clinical skills.
H.R. 1666: Patient Centered Quality Care for Life Act seeks to create a patient-centered quality initiative for seriously ill individuals by establishing a national stakeholder strategic summit that includes an interdisciplinary advisory committee. It also forms a quality-of-life education and awareness initiative through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides funding for a healthcare workforce training program, and institutes a palliative care-focused research plan to lower cost and improve quality for patients with chronic conditions.