My first patient death: the lessons I learned

One year on from her first patient death, Michelle McKay discusses the benefits of a good support network

Newly qualified, experiencing her first death was sudden for Michelle McKay. After almost a year, Ms McKay discusses who and what helped her overcome the traumatic situation

I’d been qualified for about three months when it happened. As a nursing student I had somehow been deluded to thinking that children in hospital never die unexpectedly. I thought that the first death that I would experience would be of a patient receiving specific end of life care, or one who presented at the hospital as very sick already.

So, when it happened unexpectedly, to a patient on my watch, I was not prepared for it. The shock and trauma of the situation hit me like a speeding train. If I had somehow imagined that I would find myself facing those feelings back when I was a student I


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