Currently, I am a nursing student. But, between experiences in a clinical setting as well as my own personal life, I feel like I want to be a hospice nurse. Does anybody have any advice for me regarding this? How does one go about becoming a certified Palliative care nurse?
I currently work as a CNA, and I experienced my first death a few days ago. It was really hard for me, as people insisted on drawing blood and other diagnostic tests on a man who was DNR. For the most part, he was incoherent. But, there were a few times when he was clear as day. He didn't want to be poked and prodded anymore. He just wanted to be left alone. He knew he was dying, and he wanted to go on his own terms.
I am not normally a hyper-sensitive person. ( in that way) I don't cry over lost patients. But, this guy...I did cry. Nobody was there for him, other than me. I was there when he took his last breath...and I was the one who saw the lone tear in his eye. I was the person who had to tell his nurse that I thought he was dead.
I took it upon myself to perform his post-mortem care. I felt it was my responsibility to do so. I was the person who he spent the last hours of his life with. I was the last person he laid eyes on, the last person he talked to, the last person to talk to him. I had to be the one to get him cleaned up and ready.
Unfortunately, as the lone CA on shift, that meant neglecting vitals on some other patients. God forbid the nurses take a couple of readings. ......... Not to mention that they told me not to bother. Somebody had to sit with this poor soul. God knows they weren't going to bother.
This guy died in pain. He spent hours bleeding out. He was in so much pain. I was NOT going to leave him alone. I knew he was dying, he knew he was dying. I could not, in good conscience, leave him alone to die by himself. My heart made me sit beside him and hold his hand. My heart made me clean him up to the best of my ability. It wasn't easy.
I work on a psych floor for elderly patients. Deaths are not a normal occurrence on our floor. This experience has been a profound wake up call for me.
He should not have been in so much pain. No one should have been drawing blood. That man should have been allowed to die with dignity, on his own terms.
I wish I could tell his kids that he was not alone when he passed. I was there with him. I was holding his hand. I know I am just a lowly CA, but I think his kids would take comfort knowing that someone was there with him when he took his last breath. That he wasn't alone. That someone who cared about him was there with him to the end.
I know it's not my place to say such things.