Darrell owens

Darrell Owens, MSN, MSHSA, DNP

Darrell Owens is a nurse pioneer who has changed the face of pallia­tive care in Washington state. He has been working to change patient care and the systems that allow for patient-centered care for more than 20 years, including devel­oping and building the inpatient pallia­tive care service and the outpa­tient primary pallia­tive care program within the UW Medicine system.

The primary pallia­tive care service he estab­lished is the only one of its kind in the country, providing person­al­ized, in-home visits to individ­uals for whom traveling to see a health care provider is too burden­some. Owens has traveled to many families’ bedsides at or near the time of death in order to provide support, compas­sion and expertise.

The impact of Owens’ work has rippled beyond estab­lish­ment of those two pallia­tive care programs. He has given count­less presen­ta­tions and in-services to broaden and deepen the knowl­edge base of nurses, ARNPs, doctors, physical thera­pists, speech thera­pists, social workers, respi­ra­tory thera­pists and other specialists.

Owens began his nursing educa­tion in Atlanta at Emory Univer­sity, where he earned his BSN. He also holds an MS in Health Services Admin­is­tra­tion from St. Mary’s College of California, and a Master of Science in Nursing (Pallia­tive Care CNS) and post-master’s ARNP in Adult Health and Geriatrics from Seattle Pacific Univer­sity. He earned his Doctor of Nursing Practice in Geriatrics and Pallia­tive Care at the Univer­sity of Alabama at Birmingham and in 2015 was honored by the UAB Alumni Associ­a­tion with the Joanne Barnett Award for Compas­sionate Care.

Owens worked for hospice and home health programs and agencies in Northern California from 1992 to 2000, when he moved to Seattle to join Swedish Health Services as Director of End of Life Care Services and then Director of Provi­dence Hospice of Seattle. In 2003 he joined UW Medicine at Harborview Medical Center as Attending Provider and Program Director of Pallia­tive Medicine.

Over his 17 years with UW Medicine, Owens founded the Inpatient and Outpa­tient Pallia­tive Care Services at Harborview Medical Center and North­west Hospital. Owens currently practices full-time inpatient and outpa­tient primary, supportive and pallia­tive care on the North­west Campus, including having an embedded clinic model with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He is also a Clinical Assis­tant Professor of Medicine at the Univer­sity of Washington.

He was the first nurse to start and lead a pallia­tive care service in Washington state and is the only RN to start and direct two medical consult services in the UW Medicine system. He also served as a nurse consul­tant to help Valley, Swedish and Virginia Mason start their pallia­tive care services. He has worked cease­lessly to partner with admin­is­tra­tors to ensure that his work continues, even when system changes recon­figure the struc­ture of pallia­tive care teams.

In Washington state, he served two terms as a Commis­sioner for the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assur­ance Commis­sion, including serving as Chair of the ARNP subcom­mittee. In 2017, he was reappointed as a Commis­sioner Pro-Tem, serving as a technical advisor and expert witness for issues related to opioid prescribing.

Owens is an inter­na­tional expert in pallia­tive care, whose work includes teaching in both Vietnam and China. He has published over 20 articles and book chapters on various pallia­tive care topics.

In 2011, Owens was selected as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner’s Nurse Practi­tioner of the Year for the State of Washington, and in 2012 was the first nurse practi­tioner to receive the Cambia Health Foundation’s Sojourn Award for Excel­lence in Clinical Leader­ship in Pallia­tive Care.

Owens’ work seeks to shift the national statis­tics regarding treat­ment measures admin­is­tered within days of death, number of days individ­uals receive hospice services, and the quality of care while living with serious illness. By laying the founda­tion for excel­lence in pallia­tive care and end of life care in Washington state, Owens’ efforts have had far-reaching impacts on the families he serves as well as on those who will be served by future practi­tioners in the field of pallia­tive care.