Lost Pt in clinicals today

  1. Hello all,

    Just wanted to share my tramatic experience today in my first hospital rotation. I was in the ER. A fairly young man came in full code, The RN I was with ask if I would do compressions, so I did for what seemed like forever, untill the MD told me to stop, he said there was nothing else we could do, he was gone. I just started to cry, I went with the MD to tell his wife, and I couldnt even speak to her, I just cried with her. I felt so bad for the man we couldnt save and the wife that just lost what must seem like her whole world. I noticed the MD kept looking at me, I tried to pull my self together, I just couldnt help it. I really havent had much hands on, I have never seen CPR administered nor have I ever seen anyone die. I have cried on and off all day.

    Just wonderin g if this ever gets any easier. I want to be a nurse so badly, but I dont know if I could handle going thru this everyday,

    Thanks for listening, I just really needed to talk to someone who understands what Im going thru
    Last edit by mhershey on Sep 22, '06
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    About mhershey

    Joined: Jul '06; Posts: 16


  3. by   jov
    I would say it gets easier in some ways but in some ways it doesn't change. I have 7 years experience as a paramedic, besides working at the Coroner's office for a few years, so I have seen my share of tragic situations. Sometimes you are able to separate yourself from what is happening; at other times, the person who dies is just too close in age to your own kids or husband or father or whatever. When I went back to nursing school last year, the first thing I noticed (which I had forgotten) is how hard this job is emotionally. At some point, as a nurse, you will decide that you are more helpful to the family if you are functional. Last semester, I had an older gentleman with prostate cancer. It just struck me hard so many losses he was experiencing. I ended up going in the bathroom and crying. Then doing the cold water thing and coming out and caring for him. Decided those were my issues, not his, and I also decided not to take my baggage into his hospital room with me.
    I cry almost every week on the way home from my Psych rotation. The stories you hear! 19 year old boys who drink/use, because they were abandoned by their mothers at age 3, then adopted at age 6, then sent back at age 10 because they weren't wanted anymore. Sad, sad, sad.
    So you are not alone. It will be better in some ways. One way I cope is to remind myself that it is NOT my son that died, and I am not experiencing that loss. Helps me be empathetic, yet functional.
  4. by   NICU_nurse2b
    :icon_hug: Can not really offer any advice as I have only had one day of clinical, but it sounded like you needed a hug.
  5. by   EMTandNurse2B
    (((Hugs))) Losing a patient is hard, especially your first one, and especially as a student. I'm sorry you had to actually perform CPR the first time you ever saw a code. It's easier if you get to observe for a time before being expected to help out. It's OK to cry about the experience, we understand. We have all been there at some point or another. We have all had that first patient death, that young patient that died, and that patient that just tugged at our heart strings when they left.
    It does get easier to handle, to some extent. It changes with time, and you are able to set your emotions aside for the time being and do your job. But, every single patient still tugs at your heart, reminding you of that common link of humanity we all share. I think with every patient I have, I get this little "that could be me, or my family" moment that inspires me to give the best care I can give. My EMT professor used to tell us that if it ever got to the point where it didn't hurt anymore, it was time to change professions. The crying you did with the wife today was helpful to her, as well as you. You showed her that you cared, that her pain mattered to her. This goes a long way toward helping another.
    Take some time for you in this. Take some time to cry, relax, do something to release your stress, whatever helps you right now. Take some time to work through those emotions, they are hard to deal with (especially the first time). Don't ever bottle those emotions up and not deal with them. Trust me, from someone who did that, it is not a pretty situation and leads to burnout.
    Use this as a learning situation in your professional growth; learn about death and dying and your feelings related to it. As sheltered from death as our culture tends to be, it is a normal part of life. As nurses, we will see death and dying every day, and we will need to be able to accept that fact.
    (((Hugs))) again, it's not easy to watch your first patient die, especially not at a younger age and in that way. If you need to talk, we're here to listen!
    Last edit by EMTandNurse2B on Sep 22, '06
  6. by   locolorenzo22
    I cannot say that you MUST be disconnected, but it is a sight we will see in our professional career. Your first one is the toughest, but to disconnect completely means that you have lost the CARE which is the most important aspect to your job.
    Remember to try to keep your outward emotions from impacting your patient/family care and communication as best you can, if it means crying in the bathroom before you go with MD, do it. If it means you offer the mother one last chance to see/talk to loved one, so be it.

    When I worked in LTC, our first patient was one who came to the door everyday he was able. Asked for coffee, cigarettes and hookers!! When he could no longer get around in his w/c, we made sure that at least one person from the department went down to see him and meet his needs however long we needed to do that. I know many days he sent us away, but he enjoyed playing a game when able, or even just knowing we were offering a movie/book/etc.
    His community caregiver came to live with us as she had her own issues, and he passed surrounded by the knowledge he had made us better people. As he was wheeled out the door, we all stood outside our doors to say goodbye. I ended up being the facility coordinator of the memorial service, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house!

    I guess I got on a tangent there, but death is something we will see all the time. Make peace with what we can, and talk out what we can't.

    BTW....a big hug and "keep the chin up" to you, chica.
  7. by   mhershey
    Thank you all for the encouraging words, I really appreciate that,

    thanks to you nurse2b, your words helped me so much, its good to know others feel its ok to cry. I couldnt help thinking, that could have been my husband! It has definetly been an experience,

    Thanks again for the support:wink2:
  8. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from mhershey
    Just wonderin g if this ever gets any easier. I want to be a nurse so badly, but I dont know if I could handle going thru this everyday,
    First, it doesn't happen every day, so you don't have to go through this every day.

    Because you are a nurse, you will be able to help stop it from happening. A lot of very lucky families will have only the memory of a really bad scare or a difficult time, and their loved one will go home and be as whole as possible--because you became a nurse.