Experiences of nursing students providing end of life care for children and young people: A focus group study

Claire Camara*, Leah Rosengarten, Jane Callum

*Corresponding author for this work

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End of life care for Children and Young People (CYP) is known to be an emotive area of practice. Previous studies involving qualified nurses have demonstrated that nurses feel they need more end-of-life care education, as well as a platform for sharing experiences and discussing them with others. Evidence relating to nursing students remains limited despite being widely acknowledged as a difficult aspect of nursing education.

This study aims to help improve understanding of the lived experiences of children's nursing students who have cared for a patient at, during, or immediately following end-of-life. The study describes the emotions experienced by children's nursing students and explores the student nurses' perceptions of education and support needs around caring for CYP during end-of-life care.

A qualitative inquiry methodology allowed for a pragmatic approach to design this focus group study. Nine undergraduate student children's nurses participated in two focus groups. Ethical approval was granted by the host university.

Thematic data analysis using Braun and Clarke's (2019) thematic analysis was conducted.

Six themes emerged from the data; Emotional practice (1), the heart of the care (2), a lasting impact (3), hierarchy of grief (4), experience, knowledge and understanding (5), and the value of support (6). End of life care for children and young people is recognised by students as a sad but important part of the job role, which can have a lasting impact and which students required improved education and support for.

Implications for practice
Improved education on end-of-life care is required. This should be introduced early, encompassing practical approaches to the varied nature of end-of-life care, normalising a range of emotions and delayed responses. Furthermore, improved support is required for both student nurses and qualified staff, who are supporting students caring for CYP at the end of life.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106147
Pages (from-to)106147
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Early online date27 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024

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