An image of a pharmacist on a tablet in front of stock, cataloging medication
Clinical support & education are key components to support hospice workers
by Natasha Jackson

Like other areas of health care, hospice requires a lot of training, especially for nurses. From technology and compliance to standard operating procedures and continuing education requirements, it’s easy to overwhelm your team. Even after devoting countless hours to learning and development, many hospice nurses report feeling under-supported for some of the unique demands of their roles. What are we missing?

One area of opportunity is around building knowledge of some of the unique medications, medication protocols and treatment workflows that exist in hospice and palliative care. This can be a significant stressor for a variety of reasons that span clinical, administrative and interpersonal competencies. As a pharmacist with Enclara Pharmacia, a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) for the hospice community, I have seen firsthand how organizations like ours can help lighten the load for nurses through clinical expertise, educational opportunities, workflow technology and other services.

Education Is Important

I joined Enclara as a clinical pharmacist manager, helping hospices optimize their medication utilization to support both quality improvement and cost containment. A big part of that involved the creation and delivery of educational programming for clinicians. One of my major takeaways was that hospice nurses out in the field spend the majority of their time working independently. They do an incredible job, but the work can be both physically and emotionally draining.

The right preparation and resources are essential to maximizing professional satisfaction for these everyday heroes. Today, as director of training and education, I lead a team responsible for the management of our Enclara Learning Academy, which provides live and on-demand professional development programs to help nurses master both clinical concepts and operational best practices in hospice medication management.

Pharmacist Support Improves the Nurse Experience

Clinical support is the defining feature of pharmacies and PBMs that specialize in hospice care. Each organization does things a little differently, but the common goal is to support patient safety and comfort. At Enclara, a team of pharmacists and technicians fields calls 24/7 to provide guidance on symptom management. Over the years, these calls have inspired a library of clinical resources and training sessions. At the same time, technology has transformed how we provide medications to patients, and it is important to educate nurses on how to get the most from our digital tools.

A lot of what we do starts with the acknowledgement that hospice and palliative care make up a small and unique niche within the larger health care system. Palliative care tends to receive less attention than other topics in both nursing school and continuing education curricula, so nurses entering the hospice sector typically do a lot of their learning on the job. Even experienced hospice nurses may have knowledge or skills gaps, which can negatively impact professional satisfaction.

Natasha Jackson is the director of training and education at Enclara Pharmacia, where she leads a team responsible for the development and delivery of clinical education, workflow training and professional development for hospice clinicians and leadership. She previously served as a clinical pharmacist manager, supporting hospice partners in improving quality and financial outcomes through appropriate medication management.

Jackson is passionate about health equity, particularly related to addressing health disparities, and she believes that creating an equitable and inclusive environment for patients is key to providing quality care to people of all backgrounds. She serves as the chair of the Enclara Pharmacia Inclusion and Diversity Council and the chair of the Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee for the American Pharmacists Association. Jackson is the 2023 recipient of the Professional Women in Healthcare Jana Quinn Inspirational Award. Visit