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At the beginning of my career as a nurse, I started working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home. I used to work at least 72 hours a week with the same residents. Initially, when I witnessed death at work, it was very difficult for me because I had become attached to residents emotionally. I used to interact with the residents almost every day of my life, and I treated them like family. Later, after I had experienced many deaths, I had learned to be more compassionate, able to accept and tolerate delays without becoming anxious or frustrated, and I made sure I was providing the best care of the residents during the last stages of their lives. I have decided to make sure they have the respect, compassion, and dignity that they deserve until their last breath. I make sure that they are comfortable, clean, and dry. The most important thing is that they are not suffering. I have held their hands after my shift and stayed at the bedside for the patient and the family. I understand now that it is not about me, it is about them. According to Domrose (2011), “studies suggest that nurses go through a unique grieving process when patients die, and how they manage this process is important to their well-being.
To answer the question of if it gotten easier or harder for me to accept the fact of death, my answer is “easier.” It is easier because I can talk to my co-workers, friends, and the chaplain at the hospital where I work, and I have experienced many deaths in the years that I’ve worked as a float pool nurse, so it is not a complete oddity to see death. Also, the hospital where I work offers a committee for debriefings after a difficult death or a sentinel event. I’d like to add that float pool nurses in particular are often assigned patients who are dying.
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