Have you ever struggled with your pt passing during clinicals?


Without violating HIPAA, I was wondering how folks handle the passing of a pt during clinicals. This week was a rough one. I took care of someone who clearly was not going to last the week, and I knew it. I got to know some of the family and the care itself was difficult.

This morning before a med-surg test I was informed they had passed. It was naturally upsetting (when you have 1 pt you get kind of close to them in such a short time) but then I kept thinking about it during my test and even now as I'm trying to do the clinical packet I can't help but think of everything I said and did, and wonder if that helped or if I made any mistakes that might have hurt.

I know this job is all about life and death, and that this will not be my last. I'unno....maybe just coming on here and typing it out will help. Does anyone else have any stories (remember HIPAA) and how they coped?

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

1,907 Posts

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

It happens. Forty years ago, during my first MedSurg clinical in a nursing home, one of the students had three patients in a row die. Two of them she never even got to see past the initial visit we did the night before to gather all our information. So, she had three patients in a week.

We dubbed her the "Angel of Death".


14 Posts

Ah there's that eff'd up sense of humor that we all adopt lol. I think having a pt pass is a valuable learning experience, and providing end-of-life care and watching how the family makes decisions and whatnot. I just haven't developed my thick skin yet. :)

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,474 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Omg. 26 years ago I had 2 patients one day and both died. Not my fault though. I think. Hope. Lol. Seriously, it happens


72 Posts

Specializes in Forensic Psychiatry. Has 2 years experience.

Yes, I was actually given an actively dying patient as an assignment once. I hated it, but it was a great learning experience in hindsight. Not necessarily skill-wise, but how to provide comfort and support to family/friends and even the patient. This family had been through a lot and didn't have a good understanding about the dying process and what to expect. They didn't want hospital staff to touch him and the patient was very uncomfortable. I got to provide education and did end-of-life care when they agreed to let me make him more comfortable. I was there when he passed, holding his hand as well as his wife's. It was an experience I will never forget, as difficult as it was. I even shed a few tears in private.

I had another experience the week after. The patient was okay the day before. I got there the second day, got report, and when I walked in to say hello, I found that he had passed. He passed in less than 15 min between the time the other nurse had left him and me going in there.

Specializes in Neuroscience. Has 4 years experience.

Usually I bathe them and then move on. You were at school at the time, so I can see how that would be hard to do. In the real world...bathe and tag, and move on.