Embodied good deaths and disembodied bad deaths: Undergraduate nursing students narratives of experience

Pauline Catherine Gillan, Sarah Jeong, Pamela van der Riet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The concept of “good and bad deaths” has been widely addressed in the literature. However, little is known of undergraduate nursing students' experiences with death in clinical practice or how they perceive good and bad deaths.

Objective: To explore undergraduate nursing students' personal and professional/clinical experiences of death and dying. Design: A qualitative narrative inquiry design.

Setting and Participants: Eighteen third year Bachelor of Nursing students participated in the study.

Methods: Data was collected through individual participant interviews and analysed using Clandinin and Connelly's three dimensions of narrative inquiry (temporality, sociality and place).

Results: A key finding of the study revealed that students' death experiences are shaped by the role of others, especially experienced nurses in clinical practice. Embodied good death experiences were influenced by the presence of nurses who guided students through the experience. Disembodied bad death experiences were influenced by undignified care, ritualistic post-mortem care and the physical coldness of the deceased and the environment.

Conclusion: Nursing students need meaningful preparation to undertake end of life care in clinical practice, including post-mortem care and the possibility of bad deaths. End of life care education and end of life care simulation play a role in preparing students for end of life care in clinical practice. End of life care education needs to be commenced early in the undergraduate degree. Furthermore, nursing clinicians need to be aware of the impact that they have in shaping good and bad death experiences for undergraduate nursing students, the Registered Nurses of the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104674
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Volume97
Early online date26 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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