Maryjo Prince-Paul Brings a Strong Commitment to Patient-Centered End-of-Life Care
Ohio End of Life Options is pleased to welcome Dr. Maryjo Prince-Paul to its Board of Directors. She will serve as chairperson for the Ohio End of Life Options Health Care Coalition where she will oversee education initiatives and help build a community of support among Ohio’s health care professionals.
Maryjo Prince-Paul, PhD, MSN, RN, FPCN, is an Associate Professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and is an experienced hospice and palliative care nurse. Throughout her 30-year career, she has researched and promoted the importance of patient-centered communication and end-of-life care.
Ohio End of Life Options is excited to be working with Dr. Prince-Paul and is grateful for the expertise and commitment she brings to its mission.
IN HER OWN WORDS:
As a grassroots organization, Ohio End of Life Options has taken the lead in Ohio to begin the discussion, advocacy work, and necessary education about Medical Aid in Dying (MAID). As a leader in the field of end-of-life care, education, and research, I not only felt compelled to join these efforts, but obligated to support its mission.
As a hospice and palliative care nurse, I have cared for thousands of terminally ill patients and their families in my nearly thirty years of clinical practice. I have had the privilege to witness many dignified and peaceful deaths; conversely, I have also held space with those who suffered profoundly during the dying process. In addition, I have listened to countless narratives of my fellow nurse colleagues who have shared similar experiences. In all of this dialogue, one trend seems to prevail: even with the outstanding support and skilled care of a hospice team, we have no way to accurately predict suffering. For each of us, suffering not only holds a different meaning, it holds different ways in which each of us will respond. And although science has catapulted new discoveries and technological advancements, it is still the case that we will all die!
At the root of the human condition is the right of autonomy and self-determination. As a health care provider, I am bound to respect the autonomy of patients – this means to acknowledge that patients, who have decision making capacity, have the right to make decisions about their care, how they choose to live until they die, and how they might seek to control the circumstances and timing of their death. Although all of this seems really simple, the reality of ensuring this in the face of the complexity of a terminal illness is often challenging. My solution to this is to create public dialogue and to begin to discuss dying and death as more than an abstract possibility.
Medical Aid in Dying is an option that needs to be part of this conversation. However, in order to hold this discussion, we must understand what MAID is, what it is not, and how it has been offered as a safe option for end-of-life care in Oregon for over twenty years. In order to change health care policy, nurses are in a front line role, but we must be instructed with sound data and charged to respect the multifaceted views of this dialogue. Ohio End of Life Options provides such a forum. I am honored to be part of an organization that promotes a patient’s rational choice to support meaningful death.
Maryjo Prince-Paul, PhD, MSN, RN, FPCN
Dr. Prince-Paul is committed to making death and dying conversations part of life, starting with her students at CWRU. She teaches a class called Perspectives on Dying and Death: Normalizing the Inevitable. The university published a story about the class entitled, Class searches for the meaning of a “good death”.
Ohio End of Life Options is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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