Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Jean Bachman, DSN


Wilma Calvert

Shawn Pohlman

Richard Yakimo


Caregivers involved in palliative care seek to understand problems and challenges at end of life through research to determine the best care for patients and their families. Spiritual care is a key component of quality end of life care, yet there is a paucity of research on spiritual care in inpatient settings at end of life in nursing literature. The purpose of this study was to examine the personhood and spiritual care practices of inpatient palliative nurse consultants. This study describes expert nurse’s experience of delivering spiritual care for patients and families at end of life in inpatient palliative care settings. Expertise was compared and contrasted with Benner’s (1996/2009) concept of expert nursing practice. A purposeful sample of 10 experienced palliative care nurse consultants working in inpatient palliative care in the Midwestern United States were recruited for two semi-structured interviews to produce 20 transcripts. Interpretive phenomenology was the methodology utilized to obtain narrative data and analyze the content of the transcripts. Content analysis produced a paradigm case of expert practice and an exemplar of proficient practice evolving toward expertise. The central theme of Humbled Experts was identified and further explored under three subthemes; The I and Thou Relational Stance, Enlisting other Experts, and the ABC’s (attitudes, behaviors, and communal skills) reflecting spiritual care expertise. The study adds to the understanding of the role of spiritual care in nursing as much broader than religious care. Results of this study may add to nursing practice, theory development, education, and research.

OCLC Number


Included in

Nursing Commons