Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing




Many patients will spend their final days and die in the hospital. The hospital setting provides unique challenges to providing high quality end of life care. The nurses’ role in caring for end-of-life patients in this challenging setting is extremely important. The purpose of this study was to determine what barriers registered nurses (RNs) face while caring for end-of-life patients on a medical-surgical unit in the hospital setting. A survey was used to identify these barriers on a medical surgical unit at Westerly Hospital. The theory of Nurse Moral Distress by Corley (2002) was used to guide this study. The results of the survey reinforced that nurses in the medical-surgical setting are faced with barriers that make caring for end-of-life care patients challenging. The most frequent barriers identified to providing good end-of-life care were a lack of time and education/training. Nurses described “managing your patient assignment is difficult” while caring for an end-of-life patient, especially because their “is never enough time”. These results are useful in identifying areas in which the Advanced Practice Nurse can help influence change in this setting such as leading educational initiatives and creating and implementing policies and procedures. Through these efforts, the APRN can work with nurses and the interdisciplinary team to improve patient and family experiences during this difficult time.