R425 first year student nurses ‘experience of encounters with death of a patient during clinical placement

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.

This article is free to access.


Background: In the course of caring, nurses often experience the death of patients, and this experience has an effect on the nurse. Every nurse responds to this experience in a different way, and it can be either a negative emotional response, or a positive emotional response. As part of their curriculum, R425 first-year student nurses are placed in clinical facilities to acquire competency in nursing skills, and here they may be exposed to patients dying. R425 is a South African Nursing Council regulation relating to the approval of and the minimum requirements for the education and training of a nurse (General, Psychiatric, and Community) and Midwife, leading to registration. End-of-life care can be rewarding, yet emotionally and psychologically challenging. Little is known about R425 first-year student nurses’ experiences of patients dying while being cared for by nurses on clinical placement. The study, therefore, explored and describes R425 first-year student nurses’ experiences of the death of a patient during clinical placement. Method: A qualitative exploratory descriptive and contextual research design was adopted, and a purposive, nonprobability sampling approach applied. Data were collected through unstructured individual interviews with 15 R425 first-year student nurses. Data were analysed using content analysis. Results: Four themes emerged, namely, knowledge, psychological trauma, low self-esteem, and nutritional disorders, and subthemes were identified. Results reveal both negative and positive responses to encountering the death of patients, with more negative responses, and fewer positive responses. Conclusion: Results show that first-year student nurses struggle to cope with the death of a patient, mainly because they lack knowledge and the skills required to provide end-of-life nursing. It is the requirement for student nurses to be competent in a skill, ‘last office’, which involves laying out of a dead person. Such skill can be deferred in the first year of study, and can only be introduced at a later stage, either in third year or fourth year of study, when students are better equipped with knowledge and skills relating to dealing with death. There is a need to review the curriculum of R425 first-year student nurses, so that outcomes such as death and dying can be introduced in the third or fourth year of study.




Molefe, L. (2024). R425 first year student nurses ‘experience of encounters with death of a patient during clinical placement. BMC Nursing, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-024-01922-z

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free