Dorothy J Wholihan headshot

Dorothy J Wholihan


Clinical Associate Professor
Program Director, Advanced Practice Palliative Care Speciality Sequence

1 212 992 9429

433 First Avenue
Room 533
New York, NY 10010
United States

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Professional overview

Dorothy Wholihan is a palliative care nurse practitioner with over 30 years of nursing experience. She has practiced as an oncology and pain management clinical nurse specialist and a nurse practitioner in palliative care. Dorothy's practice and research interests include spiritual aspects of care, teaching communication skills, and the care of veterans at end of life.


DNP 2011, George Washington University
Post-Master's Certificate, 2008, Christian Specialty, General Theological Seminary
Post-Master's Certificate: ANP, 1999, Uniformed Services University of the Heath Sciences
MSN, 1989, Yale University
BSN, 1983, University of Pennsylvania


Palliative care

Professional membership

Fellow in Hospice and Palliative Nursing
Hospice and Palliative Nursing Society
ELNEC National Faculty Member
American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Sigma Theta Tau



A Framework for Integrating Oncology Palliative Care in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Education

Fennimore, L., Wholihan, D., Breakwell, S., Malloy, P., Virani, R., & Ferrell, B. (2018). Journal of Professional Nursing. 10.1016/j.profnurs.2018.09.003
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) faculty play a critical role in preparing students to meet the complex needs of the nation as the number of cancer rates and survivors rise (National Cancer Institute, 2018) and as an unprecedented number of older Americans enter into the healthcare system with complicated comorbidities (Whitehead, 2016). Palliative care has dramatically expanded over the past decade and has been increasingly accepted as a standard of care for people with cancer and other serious, chronic, or life-limiting illnesses. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are recognized as important providers of palliative care (Walling et al., 2017). A 2-day course was held with support from the National Cancer Institute to enhance integration of palliative oncology care into DNP curriculum. The course participants (N = 183), consisting of DNP faculty or deans, practicing DNP clinicians, and students, received detailed annotated slides, case studies, and suggested activities to increase student engagement with the learning process. Course content was developed and delivered by palliative care experts and DNP faculty skilled in curriculum design. Participants were required to develop goals on how to enhance their school's DNP curriculum with the course content. They provided updates regarding their progress at integrating the content into their school's curriculum at 6, 12, and 18 months post course. Results demonstrated an increase in incorporating oncology palliative care in DNP scholarly projects and clinical opportunities. Challenges to inclusion of this content in DNP curricula included lack of: perceived time in curriculum; faculty educated in palliative care; and available clinical sites.

Haber et al. respond

Haber, J., Hartnett, E., Allen, K., Hallas, D., Dorsen, C., Lange-Kessler, J., Lloyd, M., Thomas, E., & Wholihan, D. (2015). American Journal of Public Health, 105(5), e3-e4. 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302648

Putting the mouth back in the head: HEENT to HEENOT

Haber, J., Hartnett, E., Allen, K., Hallas, D., Dorsen, C., Lange-Kessler, J., Lloyd, M., Thomas, E., & Wholihan, D. (2015). American Journal of Public Health, 105(3), 437-441. 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302495
Improving oral health is a leading population health goal; however, curricula preparing health professionals have a dearth of oral health content and clinical experiences.We detail an educational and clinical innovation transitioning the traditional head, ears, eyes, nose, and throat (HEENT) examination to the addition of the teeth, gums, mucosa, tongue, and palate examination (HEENOT) for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of oral-systemic health. Many New York University nursing, dental, and medical faculty and students have been exposed to interprofessional oral health HEENOT classroom, simulation, and clinical experiences. This was associated with increased dental-primary care referrals.This innovation has potential to build interprofessional oral health workforce capacity that addresses a significant public health issue, increases oral health care access, and improves oral-systemic health across the lifespan.

Empowering nursing assistants to improve end-of-life care

Wholihan, D., & Anderson, R. (2013). Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 15(1), 24-32. 10.1097/NJH.0b013e31825f345b
Nursing assistants are integral to palliative care and are often the most deeply involved and consistent care providers to dying patients. Yet the contributions of nursing assistants are often unrecognized and underappreciated. They are frequently marginalized when it comes to professional education activities, particularly in the acute care setting. This article describes an educational initiative based on the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association nursing assistant core curriculum. A daylong educational intervention was provided to a voluntary convenience sample of nursing assistants from a variety of inpatient units. Presurveys and postsurveys about knowledge, attitudes, and awareness of ethical issues were administered to those attending the class, as well as a control group of nursing assistants. The results of this pilot study showed that a daylong conference on end-of-life care was associated with improved measures of knowledge, attitudes about care of the dying, and awareness of ethical issues. Interesting points of discussion concerned the points of tension identified by nursing assistants in the care of dying patients, the need for ongoing support for these staff members, and the practical issues of how to best educate and integrate nursing assistants into the palliative care team.

Community discussions: A vision for cutting the costs of end-of-life care

Wholihan, D., & Pace, J. (2012). Nursing Economic$, 30(3).
Palliative care involvement with patients with advanced disease has demonstrated significant cost savings at end of life (EOL). These financial benefits are largely due to improved EOL decision making. Assisting patients and families to examine their values and determine their preferences makes it possible to match patient goals with appropriate care. Often, comfort-oriented care is favored, avoiding the costs of medically aggressive, often futile, technology-driven interventions. Community-based EOL care discussions would demonstrate increased cost reductions while facilitating significant patient and family satisfaction with care.

A patient-education tool for patient-controlled analgesia.

Wholihan, D. (1997). Oncology Nursing Forum, 24(10), 1801-1804.
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To develop a pamphlet for educating patients about patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). DATA SOURCES: Journal articles and pump manufacturers' materials. DATA SYNTHESIS: This pamphlet defines PCA and describes PCA pump operation, pain assessment, medication side effects, and safety considerations. A numerical pain-assessment tool also is included. CONCLUSIONS: This pamphlet has been helpful in assisting patients to use PCA pumps effectively. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Nurses can use this tool to educate patients requiring PCA therapy for pain management.

The 'VANAC team': Establishing a cancer prevention team

Genovese, L., & Wholihan, D. (1995). Cancer Nursing, 18(6), 421-426.
Nurses recognize the increasing need to focus on primary and secondary prevention of cancer, yet the demands of current staffing prohibit many nurses from organizing and/or participating in cancer prevention and detection activities. This article describes an innovative program established at the Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA). Funded by an American Cancer Society professional education grant, nurses at the Bronx VA formed the 'VANAC' Team (VA Nurses Against Cancer). The camaraderie of a team approach invited generalist nurses to become involved with the program. The formation and activities of the team are described. After an intensive orientation, nurses participated in a wide range of educational activities, including patient education, staff seminars, and community presentations. The logistics of arranging such a program are discussed and recommendations for future direction are offered. It is hoped that nurses in other institutions can adapt the VANAC approach to their individual settings, thereby increasing the number of nurses involved in cancer prevention.

Home health in rural Kenya.

Wholihan, D. (1993). Home Healthcare Nurse, 11(6), 47-50.
Despite the many environmental and cultural differences, many similarities exist between home health nursing in Kenya and the United States. Family-focused care is the goal, with emphasis on education and prevention.

The value of reminiscence in hospice care

Wholihan, D. (1992). American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 9(2), 33-35. 10.1177/104990919200900210

Incorporating cancer prevention interventions into the home health visit.

Wholihan, D. (1991). Home Healthcare Nurse, 9(5), 19-24.