Past traumatic experiences and nursing school - how will you deal?

Students Pre-Nursing


I'm just wondering if anyone else has similar concerns, or has gone through something like this themself.

2.5 years ago, I had a stillbirth. Needless to say, it was very traumatic. I found out that my son had passed away at 36 weeks and opted for an elective c-section. To me, a vaginal delivery just wasn't an option, it was too upsetting.

I'd thought of nursing as a potential career before then, but since having that experience as well as some subsequent blood clots and having some really awesome care from my nurses, my desire to pursue nursing solidified. However, I was (and still am) afraid. I think everyone has something that worries them when they think about nursing. Blood, mucous, stool, vomit, needles, etc. Yes, those things are slightly concerning to me as well, but what I am really afraid of is being there for the delivery of a stillborn. Not before the baby is born, not after the baby is born, but the actual delivery. Obviously due to my personal experience, it would bring up alot of my own grief and I am very scared of the idea. Now, I have NO intention of going into L&D - ever. But I know that regardless, I am going to have to do an L&D rotation in nursing school (please correct me if I'm wrong), and that while doing my clinicals, I may find myself in that position. I know that if that happened, I would deal with it. But how gracefully, I don't know. So I'm thinking about it now, just in case.

Does anyone have anything like this - a personal trauma they are afraid of reliving while in nursing school or as a nurse? How do you think you will cope? If anyone is in nursing school or is a nurse and has any actual experience, I'd love to hear it.

Specializes in Cardiac.

I'm so sorry that you lost your precious son.

You are correct in that you have to rotate through L&D in nursing school. I bet if you share with your clinical instructor the same thing you've shared with us, that you'll never have to see that situation occur.

Usually, L&D staff don't want students in a room during that time anyway. In my L&D rotation I only saw the joyful moments.

So, if I were you, I'd still persue nursing. We need empathetic nurses!


133 Posts

cardiacRN, thank you for your encouragement and reassurance. I wondered about the instructors, if they would be likely to excuse me in that situation, or not. I would think most people would be sympathetic, but you hear stories of ruthless clinical instructors, so I wasn't sure LOL.

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

88 Articles; 21,246 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

I think most instructors would be empathetic and I'll be honest that few places would allow students in the room during that situation. I too am so very sorry for your loss.


133 Posts

Thank you, traumaRUs. That's honestly quite a relief to hear that I probably wouldn't be allowed in that situation anyway.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I agree with the others. It's very unlikely that you will find yourself in the position you fear most.

However ... your feelings may change a bit as you progress in your nursing education. You may get to a point at which you want to confront your fears head on and conquer them. Maybe not ... but maybe. If that happens, don't be surprised.

Some people don't like the idea of "living in fear" that something will happen -- and they need to face it directly to "get over that hurdle" as part of their healing and recovery from a bad experience. For example, some crime victims feel the need to face the person who attacked them in court in order to feel empowered again. Some people need to visit the site of an accident where a death or serious injury occurred. It can be part of the healing process. etc.

I've worked with many parents who newborns have died in the NICU and many need to re-visit the scene a couple of times.

If something like that happens to you, I am sure you will be able to find some supportive colleagues to help you through it. As you well know, we can't always prevent bad things from happening ... but we can help each other through those bad times. That's a lot of what good nurses do.

Good luck to you.


133 Posts

Thank you, llg. I feel that urge even now, but I'm not quite there yet and am not sure I ever will be. Regardless, I wouldn't want to do that in a setting where I'm supposed to be a professional. But I'm starting to feel more confident that I won't be put in that situation.

I like your Mulder quote also :wink2:


112 Posts

I am so sorry for your loss.

What motivates me is thinking about the lifelong difference a caring healthcare worker made for me and my family. What an honor it will be to not only provide excellent care (some day), but also to be the caring person a patient or family needs to make it through their difficult time. Perhaps you will have a perspective that will make a lifelong difference for one of your future patients.


133 Posts

itsirkmr, that is exactly what I hope to be. Some of the nurses I had were just amazing, I will probably never forget them.

Specializes in Cardiac.

I was thinking the same thing. Can you imagine how helpful and caring you could be for someone in that similiar situation?

Or even if it's a loss of an adult in an ICU, or an will have that perspective that can be so helpful for families.

Maybe that's what your son was meant to do? Bring you to nursing, where you can help other people...


133 Posts

cardiacRN, I'm definitely not one of those people that believes that everything happens for a reason. But I do like to think that, that if something good could be derived from losing him, it was this. I do think I could really help support people who really need it because of what I've been through.

Specializes in Cardiac.

I hear you. I understand what you mean. If you could have your way, you'd choose him over anything else. I understand that. I don't mean to imply that his only purpose was to guide you into nursing. I understand that he was loved and very much wanted. I really, really do.

But....if his loss can make you into a caring nurse, then he's really achieved a lot in his short little life. Think of all the lives you can affect! All because of him.

And maybe you will encounter a pt that needs that kind of empathy. That kind that nobody else that day can offer.

What was his name, if you don't mind me asking? If you do mind, then I understand..

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