Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Sutton, Rosemary

Subject Headings

Terminal care, Nursing, Nurse and patient, Communication in medicine


Student nurses are involved in caring for patients who are actively dying or who have been told they have a terminal illness and are faced with the process of dying. Students encounter these patients in hospitals, nursing homes, at home or in hospice care settings. According to Robinson (2004), "nurses are the healthcare providers that are most often with individuals at the end of their lives" (p. 89). Nurses should be knowledgeable about end-of-life care. Studies show that only 0.41 of nurses are certified in palliative care (Means to a better end, 2004). Nursing students often have a difficult time coping with the stress that comes with caring for those who are dying (Johannsson and Lalley, 1990-91). Student nurses need to be prepared to take an active role in caring for patients who are dying or have been told they have a terminal illness. Students are in clinical settings where they may encounter death and dying. These settings include hospitals, nursing homes, and community/home care areas. Understanding students' perceptions of death and dying can help educators prepare students for these situations by using the research available to plan better ways to teach students about the needs of the dying/terminal patient and their family. These needs include physical, spiritual, emotional and social. A qualitative investigation with thirteen junior level nursing students from a large urban university in Northeast Ohio was used in the research. Findings revealed that an emphasis on the domains of thoughts, feelings, communication, multicultural diversity, education and coping mechanisms are essential in nursing education. Participants reported a need for additional education in the area of communication and culturally responsive care. This study suggests that there is a great need to educate students about death and dying, cultural competence, communication skills and coping with emotional stress

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