Palliative care practices, including hospice, are increasingly using end-of-life doulas as part of their care teams. Doulas are typically associated with childbirth, but end-of-life care doulas specialize in providing support for the other end of the spectrum of life: dying.
Despite their increasing prevalence, however, many people remain unaware of the important part an end-of-life doula plays in the palliative care team role. If you think you'd be a good fit for this role, read on to learn more about what they do and how to find out if this career path is for you.
What Do End-of-Life Doulas Do?
An end-of-life doula visits a dying patient's bedside regularly in order to provide emotional support. This can include allaying their fears about dying, their fears about the afterlife, or their fears about what will happen to their family or comforting physical pain throughout the dying process.
Are End-of-Life Doulas Medical Professionals?
No, end-of-life doulas are not considered medical professionals and do not receive medical training. If you enroll in an end-of-life doula training program, it will be focused entirely on psychosocial support for the dying.
While you cannot provide medical support as an end-of-life doula, your patients will likely be in hospice care. At this point during their lives, they don't have much longer to live. Emotional and spiritual support becomes more important than medical support, and you'll be fulfilling this role.
Are There Any Certification Requirements for End-of-Life Doulas?
There are no state requirements for end-of-life doulas, as they are a relatively new profession and they are don't require medical licenses. However, it would be a good idea to become certified by the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance in order to find employment. This can let patients know you'll provide quality care. A training program will help you with this process.
How Do You Know If You're a Good Candidate for End-of-Life Doula Training?
If you're able to comfort the dying in a non-judgmental way, then you're a good candidate to become an end-of-life doula. As part of your career, you'll be visiting with people of many different religious backgrounds who have questions about the afterlife. You'll also have to comfort families during your career. Becoming an end-of-life doula requires you to navigate complex interpersonal relationships within the family unit and help them with their grief, and this is in addition to your dying patient.
Being an end-of-life doula is not an easy job. However, they're sorely needed in order to support hospice patients while they pass. If you think that you have the mindset necessary to perform this role, you can enroll in end-of-life doula online training classes in order to acquire the skills and the certification you need to best serve patients throughout the dying process.