1. Amy Getter, MS, RN, CHPN

    Hospice Nurse Case Manager
    Samaritan Home Health and Hospice

    Amy is a fifth generation nurse and is proud to carry on the legacy. She started her nursing career in critical care, and realized that many people “weren’t dying the way they wished.” This called her to work in hospice in her rural Oregon community, where she has seen many dignified and graceful deaths.

  2. Andrea Mejia, RN

    Palliative Care Nurse
    Calvary Hospital

    Andrea was working as a home attendant for several years when one of her long term patients encouraged her to improve her English and go back to school to get her nursing degree. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Andrea uses her background and religious convictions to help her face the death and dying process with her patients.

  3. Ann Culkin, RN, OCN

    Clinical Nurse
    Ambulatory Care Thoracic Oncology Service
    Memorial Sloan Kettering

    Ann works specifically with lung cancer patients at one of the premiere cancer research centers in New York City. She is proud of the many advancements science has made in prolonging the lives of those diagnosed with terminal illnesses, and even saw her own mother survive well beyond her prognosis. And yet, sometimes she knows that the search for “a cure” comes at too great a cost to families and patients.

  4. Anne Marie McLaughlin, RN, BSN, BA, CHPN

    Nurse Liaison and Educator
    Meridian at Home Hospice

    Anne Marie has been a nurse for 8 years, and is currently pursuing her graduate degree. In her work, she has often served as a bridge between the hospital setting and hospice, helping patients transition from one to the other. She feels strongly that nurses can change the cultural tide with doctors, patients and their families to embrace palliative care sooner in the disease process, whether it be a cancer diagnosis or something more long term, such as early stage Alzheimer’s or COPD.

  5. Arlene Blackett-James, RN, GNP-BC

    Hospice Nurse Practitioner
    VA NY Harbor Healthcare System

    Arlene has several war veterans in her own family and she has always worked primarily with that population. In her work on the hospice unit at the VA, she has come to admire the special bond these men and women share with one another. Veterans have unique needs at the end of life, and Arlene enjoys trying to help them make the most of their last days.

  6. Ashleigh Harlow, RN, BSN, CCRN

    Cardiac ICU Nurse
    Children’s National Health System

    Ashleigh was a travel nurse before she landed at Children’s. She was drawn to pediatrics after nursing school and feels that she has found a great home in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, where she sees many children recover to live full, healthy lives. However, some children don’t, and she tries to make their final days as rich as possible.

  7. Brian Fowler, RN, BSN

    Emergency Department Nurse
    The Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Between the ICU, oncology and the ER, Brian has 20 years of nursing under his belt. He currently spends his nights in the very busy Johns Hopkins ED, where he and his colleagues see everything from sudden heart attacks to violent shootings. He wishes young men and women that have been taught to glorify gun violence could see what he sees every night, so they could truly understand what it means to “get shot.”

  8. Caitlin McGeehan, RN, BSN

    Cardiac ICU staff Nurse
    The Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Caitlin works in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Johns Hopkins, where her own grandfather was the recipient of a successful heart transplant in the early 1980s. He was a shining example to her of someone who used his “borrowed time” to live wisely and prepare for his family for his inevitable death. In her work, she feels it is a clinician’s responsibility to communicate candidly with patients about their treatment options so that they can, in turn, make choices that optimize quality of life.

  9. Cassandra Collins, RN, BSN, CHPN

    Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse
    Visiting Nurse Service of New York

    Cassandra says she didn’t choose a career in Hospice nursing, rather it chose her. She helps her community overcome common misconceptions about end of life care, including issues of religion. Personally, she is also struggling with the decision to speak with her own father about his end of life wishes.

  10. Cheryl Fimian, RN

    Cardiac ICU Nurse
    Children’s National Health System

    Cheryl works in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit with critically ill patients ranging from premie babies to adults with Congenital Heart Defects. She reads signals that families give her throughout the treatment process and tries to help them find hope, no matter the outcome. For some that hope will manifest as recovery, whereas for others that hope will mean the end of suffering.

  11. Deborah LaFond, DNP, PPCNP-BC, CPON, CHPPN

    Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Care Coordinator
    PANDA Palliative Care Team
    Children’s National Health System

    Deborah is part of the PANDA Palliative Care team at Children’s National: a nurse-led program which seeks to help relieve the various emotional and practical burdens that families often face when their children are diagnosed with a life limiting illness. As a parent herself, she understands that it’s extremely difficult to make treatment decisions with a very sick child, and she and her team try to shoulder as much of that burden as they can.

  12. Diane Ryan, RN

    Palliative Care Nurse
    Calvary Hospital

    ane is a staff nurse on the Palliative Care Unit at Calvary Hospital, where she spends her days at the bedside of her dying patients. A cancer survivor herself, she knows all too well what kind of pain a terminally ill patient can experience at the end of life, and seeks to alleviate that pain whenever possible.

  13. Gilbert Oakley, RN

    Hospice RN Coordinator
    Visiting Nurse Service of New York

    When Gilbert first encountered hospice nurses, he was a bit taken aback by their open and “creative” approach to end-of-life care. However, as both a nurse and a patient, he feels it is necessary to make healthcare as human an experience as possible. He has shared many personal and intimate moments with his terminally ill patients, and helped them meet their end-of-life goals, no matter how specific or individualized those goals may be.

  14. Gretchen Brauer-Rieke, RN, MSN

    Advance Care Planning Facilitator
    Coda Conversations

    As a young nursing student, Gretchen saw that medicalized childbirth disassociated and disempowered women from an otherwise natural process. This, in turn, led her to a two-decade career as a nurse midwife. Later, while supervising nursing students in the ICU, she realized the same thing was happening to patients facing the other end of life. She now leads workshops on advance care planning in her home state of Oregon, where she helps patients and families find autonomy and dignity within the dying process.

  15. Jean Sison, RN-BC

    Hospice Nurse
    VA NY Harbor Healthcare System

    Jean trained as a nurse in the Philippines and was encouraged by her sisters to move to the United States and begin working at the VA. She finds working with veterans very challenging, but also incredibly rewarding when she is able to make an impact on her patients. Her son volunteered on her unit in high school and was so taken by his mother’s work that he is now in school studying to be a nurse as well.

  16. Jessie Nymeyer, MSN, RN, APRN, ACHPN, CCRN

    Critical Care Nurse
    Weill Cornell Medical Center

    Jessie began her nursing career working in a trauma rehab department helping patients recover from very serious injuries. Now as a Critical Care Nurse, she sees patients at an important decision-making point in their treatment plan, and has a clear sense of what sort of journey they’ll face on the path to survival. Regardless of whether her patient’s final outcome is full recovery or death, she finds that helping people set meaningful, realistic goals is an important part of her work.

  17. Joan Christopher, RN, BSN, CHPN

    Palliative Care Nurse
    Wiener Family Palliative Care Unit
    Mount Sinai Hospital

    Joan has been working in palliative care for the past four years, after spending most of her career at the now-shuttered St Vincent’s Hospital in lower Manhattan. Her own experience with her mother’s cancer diagnosis has given her a deep well of compassion to draw from when working with her patients and their families.

  18. JoAnn Nayer-Grutza, RN, NP-C

    Palliative Nurse Practitioner
    Brooklyn VA Medical Center

    JoAnn had a twenty-year career in the entertainment industry, then was compelled to become a nurse in her early 40s after watching nurses diligently care for her husband after he underwent surgery. She has always been drawn to end of life care, and at the VA she consults patients in Palliative and Hospice care options, where she tries to make each one of her dying patients “the star of their own movie.”

  19. Judith Schwarz, RN, MSN, PhD

    Advocate and Consultant
    End of Life Choices New York

    As a young ICU nurse, Judith remembers seeing many patients die without having their emotional and interpersonal needs met, due to the demands of the clinical environment. Her dissertation research focused on how nurses can better manage their relationships with dying patients, and help empower them with the information they need to make their own end-of-life decisions.

  20. Julie Shinn, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

    Director of Home Care
    The Waters Senior Living

    Julie has been a nurse for over 40 years, and began working in her directorial role at The Waters Senior Living after going into retirement. She believes that her organization’s progressive model of care could be scaled to meet the rising needs of our growing elderly population, if society could prioritize allocating financial resources for RNs to provide primary care at the end of life, leading to a high quality experience for all.

  21. Kelly Cecchettini, RN, CHPN

    Hospice Nurse
    Grace Hospice

    Kelly was a schoolteacher until her late 30s, when she witnessed the benefits of hospice firsthand, at the home of a dying neighbor. She says that she had “a calling” to go back to school to become a hospice nurse. She finds her work with terminal patients incredibly rewarding and strives to help them meet their last goals.

  22. Kenneth Prager, M.D.

    Pulmonologist, Professor of Medicine, Director of Clinical Ethics,
    Chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee
    Columbia University Medical Center

    Dr Prager is the chair of the Medical Ethics Committee at Columbia University Medical Center. He and his colleagues often serve as a neutral party in cases where patients, families and clinicians are in conflict as to how to proceed in the care of patients with little hope for recovery.

  23. Kim McCloskey, RN, BSN

    Hospice Nurse Case Manager
    Meridian at Home Hospice

    Kim lost both her mother and brother in the past several years, and brought her nursing training to bear in caring for them the best she could at the end of their lives. Now as a hospice nurse she treats all of her patients and their families as though they were extended parts of her own family. She tries to live by the principle that we need to make every day count.

  24. Kimberly Chow, RN, ANP-BC, ACHPN

    Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
    Memorial Sloan Kettering

    Kimberly works with cancer patients– those newly diagnosed and those nearing the end of life– to help palliate their symptoms, resolve emotional and familial issues, and urge them to have tough conversations about their end of life wishes. She has also tried to champion “quality of life” over “quantity” within her own family, and understands that these decisions are never easy.

  25. Larisa Kupershmid, RN

    Home Hospice Nurse
    Caring Hospice Services of NY

    A child of Ukranian Jewish refugees and a survivor of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, Larisa works predominantly within the Russian-speaking community, where she offers her expertise and intuition to those in need. She has learned that discussions about death and dying have to be handled with great care and patience, even within her own family.

  26. LaVaughn Coward, RN, PCM

    Hospice Nurse
    Caring Hospice Services of NY

    Originally from Trinidad, LaVaughn grew up in a community in which her elders died at home surrounded by family. She began working in hospice while simultaneously caring for an ailing medical colleague, who died in her arms. Over the past 20 years she has served her Brooklyn community, and has seen how death affects everyone differently. She is fascinated by the various cultural traditions surrounding death that she has been able to witness in her work, and finds common threads among disparate cultures, such as Russian and Haitian.

  27. Lemma Meleta, RN

    Long-Term Care Nurse
    Mount Olivet Careview Home

    Lemma moved to the United States from Ethiopia for political reasons, and has created a new life and family for himself here. He finds his work with elderly patients very rewarding, as caring for others plays heavily into his cultural and personal worldview. He believes that helping others enriches his own life and hopes that others will care for him and his loved ones in their time of need.

  28. Linda Jensen, RN

    Retired Nurse & Volunteer
    Compassion & Choices

    Linda has been a nurse for over 40 years and has worked both in the United States and abroad. Since her retirement she has been volunteering with Compassion and Choices, a national non-profit organization that helps terminally ill people legally acquire a medically prescribed dosage of lethal barbiturates, enabling them to end their days on their own terms.

  29. Lynn Billing, RN

    Palliative Care Nurse
    Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
    The Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Lynn has worked as both a hospice and Palliative Care nurse at some of the premiere medical institutions in the country. However, when her own father lay dying at the end of a prolonged illness, she realized that the emotions she sees her patients’ families go through are even more complicated than she had imagined.

  30. Marie Manthey, BSN, MNA, (h)PhD, FAAN, FRCN

    President Emeritus and Consultant
    Creative Health Care Management

    Marie was personally touched by a nurse when she was only 5 years old, and entered nursing school right out of high school. She has had a long and prestigious career, in which she has sought to improve the nurse-patient relationship via the concept of “Primary Nursing.” Marie is a strong proponent of positive self-determination and healthy relationships, both on a professional and a personal level, and finds that both concepts translate well to improving our end of life experience.

  31. Marilyn Crockett, RN, PSM

    Patient Service Manager
    Calvary Hospital

    Marilyn was working as an obstetrics nurse when her elder sister convinced her to give Calvary’s Palliative Care unit a try. Initially, she thought she wouldn’t like working with dying people, but has since found the other end of life even more fulfilling than the birth process. She has had several of her own family members die on her unit, and knows firsthand how challenging it can be to separate emotion from reason in difficult moments.

  32. Marja Jenkins, RN, CHPN

    Hospice Nurse Case Manager
    Meridian at Home Hospice

    Marja worked in the ER for many years and was first introduced to hospice while caring for her ailing grandfather. She spends her days helping her home-hospice patients and their families, as they cope with both the emotional burdens and the day-to-day tasks that come with caring for a terminally ill patient.

  33. Marlene McHugh, DNP, FNP-BC, ACHPN

    Nurse Practitioner and Educator
    Columbia University School of Nursing & Montefiore Medical Center

    Marlene McHugh is a pioneer in enhancing the role of nurses in palliative care. She is an assistant professor at Columbia University School of Nursing and serves as the associate director of the palliative care service at Montefiore Hospital.

  34. Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FPCN

    Penn Nursing Professor & Director, PROMISE Center
    Philadelphia VA Medical Center

    Mary first started working in hospice after burning out on the emotionally fraught interactions she often experienced working in hospital Intensive Care Units. Now she helms the incredibly progressive palliative care programs of the VA. She is often touched by the personal letters she receives from family members of deceased veterans, who write to give her feedback about their experiences with the VA’s hospice program.

  35. Maureen Leahy, RN, BSN, MHA, CHPN

    Clinical Nurse Manager
    Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute
    Mount Sinai Hospital

    Maureen has seen the many faces of the dying process. She lost her father to cancer, lost her partner to a sudden heart attack, and has battled her own cancer diagnosis and treatment process. She finds that notions of surrender and acceptance can help patients when facing the fear, pain, and abandonment that can come with a protracted illness.

  36. Megan Mendoza, RN, BSN, CPN, CCRN

    Pediatric ICU Nurse
    Children’s National Health System

    At the age of eleven, Megan was diagnosed and treated for leukemia. On Thanksgiving day of her freshman year of high school the cancer came back. She survived two grueling years of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as a cord blood transplant, and she now works in the same ICU at Children’s National where she once received treatment. She knows intimately what children go through while managing a grave illness, and what they can expect down the road if they survive.

  37. Michael Arciaga, RN, NCIIM

    Emergency Department Nurse
    The Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Both of Michael’s parents were in the medical profession back in their native Philippines, and they encouraged him to follow their path. Working as a nurse in the ER, Michael has seen his fair share of death, and knows intimately that an ER gurney is not where you want to end your days. He has also been personally touched by the death and dying experience, and has fought to honor the final wishes of several of his own ailing family members.

  38. Mohammad Afzal Khan, RN

    Hospice Nurse
    Visiting Nurse Service of New York

    The son of a Pakistani diplomat, Mohammad lived all over the world and trained in several professions before arriving in the US. He worked as a New York cab driver during the AIDS crisis, and would pick up and assist ailing AIDS patients when other cabbies refused. Those experiences inspired him to become a home hospice nurse.

  39. Nancy Roecklein, MS, NP, Jonas Scholar

    Nurse Practitioner
    Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Cancer Center West

    Nancy deeply values the relationships she is able to forge with her patients and their families. She feels that having conversations about end of life planning is a critical part of her role as a nurse practitioner, as she is able to truly get to know her patients and their individual needs. She can also speak personally to the demands of caring for a dying loved one at home, as she cared for her sister at the end of her life.

  40. Pamela Hinds, PhD, RN, FAAN

    Director of Nursing Research and Quality Outcomes
    Children’s National Health System

    Early in her nursing career, Pam was struck by the fact that some children could survive difficult illnesses and traumas, while others couldn’t. This led her to a career of extensive research, where she explores the roles that communication, hopefulness, and palliative care can play in increasing healthy outcomes for entire family units, even in situations where death is inevitable.

  41. Rita Moldovan, DNP, RN

    Clinical Nurse Specialist, Palliative Care
    The Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Rita found herself drawn to work that focused on death and dying after her newborn son died from a heart defect. In the 30 years since, she has found a calling in helping fellow clinicians talk about death and dying with patients in a sensitive and efficacious manner.

  42. Robert Smeltz, RN, MA, NP, ACHPN

    Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
    Bellevue Hospital

    In high school Robert supported and cared for his grandmother as she lost her battle with breast cancer. His first introduction to nursing came a few years later in college, when he volunteered at a local nursing home and served as a companion to the patients there. He has always been drawn to the interpersonal dynamics of nursing, and finds that patients are often more accepting of their illness than family members, who are faced with a future life without their loved one.

  43. Robin Kanarek, RN, BSN

    Nurse Educator and Philanthropist
    President of the Kanarek Family Foundation

    As a teenager, Robin was on her way to art school when a summer job at a doctor’s office introduced her to the nursing profession, prompting her to change her path. Now, as a nurse and mother, she knows all too well how crucial a role palliative care can play in a good end-of-life experience. As the President of the Kanarek Family Foundation, she seeks to bring nurses into the forefront of end-of-life conversations with patients.

  44. Shawn Brast, MSN, RN, CCRN, NRP

    Critical Care Transport Nurse and Team Educator
    Johns Hopkins Lifeline

    Shawn works in critical care transport, where he spends most of his time trying to save lives by getting patients to the hospital to receive care. In the past few years, however, he has also helped develop a program in which he takes critically ill patients from the hospital back to their homes so they can die peacefully at home on their own te

  45. Thibaut DeRoos, RN

    Long Term Care Nurse
    The Waters Senior Living

    Thibaut has been an RN for a little over a year, after starting his career as a psychologist. He finds it very rewarding to be able to work with elderly patients on achieving their end of life goals, especially given that he lost his father suddenly to a heart attack in 2009. He seeks to give his patients what his father never got: an end of life experience filled with closure and peace.

  46. Vanessa Boyce, RN, CHPN

    Hospice Nurse
    Visiting Nurse Service of NY Hospice and Palliative Care

    Vanessa started reading medical books at the age of 9, and has always been fascinated with nursing and healthcare. She works in home hospice both in Manhattan and her home borough of Brooklyn, and finds it interesting that different patient populations can have such varied approaches to death and dying. Her grandmother was often vocal about her end-of-life wishes, and she strives to be the same way with her own family.

  47. Yajaira Algarin-Martelly, RN

    Home Hospice Nurse
    Caring Hospice Services of NY

    Yajaira has worked in many nursing fields, including the Adult Emergency Department. Now she finds fulfillment in her work with hospice patients, where she feels she receives just as much from her patients as she gives. She was recently diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, which has compromised her own quality of life and given her even more empathy for her patients’ daily struggles.