Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 175 | August 15, 2022

Difficult Conversations about Death and Dying

Julie McFadden

Hospice Nurse and Social Media Influencer

Julie McFadden400

Hello and welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, we are excited and honored to have as our guest, Julie McFadden, otherwise known as “Hospice nurse Julie,” on social media, where she has almost a million viewers between TikTok and Instagram. Her warm and insightful ability to normalize and explain the death and dying process has made her a cultural icon. Julie has been a nurse for fifteen years, ten in the ICU, and five taking care of hospice patients. Her gift to the world has been sharing her experiences and discussing topics like death to help others understand the process and alleviate any anxieties they may have about it. She’s a funny, honest, and natural storyteller and her amazing following has helped expand the conversations about death and dying and change the way people view hospice care.

Julie tells us more about herself, her journey to becoming an ICU nurse, and what led to her decision to transition into doing hospice. She worked in ICU for ten years and she talks about coming to the realization that there was a missing link to talking about big life goals with what’s going to happen with certain patients. When Julie started speaking up, she realized her voice mattered and it started making an impact with more conversations happening with family members. Julie tells us about two patients she took care of in the ICU who impacted her and made her realize she really wanted to do hospice care. She details the difference between palliative care and hospice, she explains the biggest thing she learned, and why she became so passionate about working in hospice. We learn how “Hospice nurse Julie” started, how topics such as, “The Rally,” “Death with dignity,” and “Myths about morphine,” all came to her, and why she picked TikTok as her platform. Julie explains the process she goes through with families, the conversations she has, and how she navigates through them. Liz and Dr. Orsini talk about the guilt family members feel and the phrase they teach, “Sometimes the more loving thing to do is to not do anything.” We hear the one question that Julie gets asked the most from people and we learn the most fulfilling thing about her job. If someone is newly diagnosed, scared, and referred to hospice, Julie shares the first conversation she has with this person, and Dr. Orsini shares a sweet story behind his father-in-law last words, “I won!” We end with Julie telling us the most difficult type of conversations she has and how she navigates through them. . If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

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