death during clinical/preceptorship


  • Has 1 years experience.

I experienced my first code during a preceptorship in the NICU. I had never experienced death before ever and was not debriefed on the situation. While in my head I believe everything possible was done for this baby I am still feeling bouts of guilt and sadness over this loss. Is this normal? I feel like after all of my schooling maybe I am not meant to be a nurse when everyone else seems to be able to shrug it off.Any help would be great.


81 Posts

It is a part of the life cycle that no amount of teaching can prepare you for....but you talk about it and work though it. Every one has a different coping mechanism, you will find yours till then reflect on all that was done for the baby, but sometimes it just won't be enough to sustain life...(((((hugs))))) and know that it will be ok and you will be ok...

KelRN215, BSN, RN

1 Article; 7,349 Posts

Specializes in Pedi. Has 16 years experience.

Is "everyone else" who is able to shrug it off the NICU staff? If so, it's not their first time dealing with this. Speaking as a pediatric nurse of nearly six years- with certain diagnoses, you prepare yourself the day that you meet the patient. I work primarily in oncology not the NICU but before I meet a patient, when I hear their diagnosis, I know what their prognosis is and if they beat the odds, I am even more happy for them/the family. But if/when the inevitable happens, I know it was inevitable and I go on with my day/life. I was not always like this... I used cry but now I don't. Even when my favorite patient died last year, I didn't cry because I saw what her disease had done to her and I knew since the day I met her that she had a terminal disease. She died when her parents finally (after rescinding her DNR multiple times) agreed to take her off BiPAP. And I was happy that they were finally able to stop.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Patient care is emotional labor. One of the major causes of burnout is the unmet needs of nurses who are suffering from work-related moral and emotional distress. Smart organizations understand this issue and establish processes to deal with it. In my organization, our chaplains offer pro-active support to staff who are directly impacted by patient death, no matter whether it was 'expected' or not. Critical incident stress debriefing is scheduled for staff who are involved with unsuccessful codes.

It's not weakness to acknowledge your own humanity.