emergency, end of life, obstacles, emergency nurse, rural, rural nursing


Introduction: Rural emergency nurses face unique obstacles to providing quality end-of-life (EOL) care. Stories provided by emergency nurses embody their most difficult EOL care obstacles.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 53 rural hospitals. Respondents were asked to share stories that epitomized the obstacles faced while providing EOL care in the rural emergency setting.

Results: The lack of an ideal death (eg, the nurse personally knows the patient, issues with family members, and unknown patient wishes) was the top obstacle. Other reported obstacles were insufficient ED staff and power struggles between nurses and physicians.

Discussion: Rural emergency nurses often provide EOL care to friends and family members, whereas their urban counterparts are likely to transfer care to nurses with no relation to the dying patient. Not only does caring for patients whom the nurse knows or is related to cause great distress to rural emergency nurses, but this unfortunately common situation also may prevent patients from receiving the highest quality EOL care.

Original Publication Citation

Beckstrand, R. L., Rohwer, J.**, Luthy, K. E., & Macintosh, J. L. B., Rasmussen, R. J. (2017). Rural emergency nurses’ end-of-life care obstacle experiences: Stories from the last frontier. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 43(1), 40-48.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Emergency Nursing





University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

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Other Nursing Commons