The mourning of the health care professional: An important element in education about death and loss

Stephen B. Shanfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article explores the centrality of the mourning process in the education of developing health care professionals who are the survivors of complex and manifold losses. This was discussed in an elective seminar for senior medical students and graduate nurses. Learning about clinical responsibility often occurred in the context of loss and mourning. The outcome of mourning included for some a greater sensitivity to the impact of clinical interventions and a more accurate empathy for losses incurred by patients as a result of illness. Old and unresolved loss and mourning experiences were reawakened as a result of the seminar, which led to a sorting and mastering of these experiences. This is felt to be a common result of discussions about encounters with death and loss. Courses on death and dying for the health care professional, although important, are not sufficient by themselves for mastery of these topics. Clinical teachers must be aware of the student’s response to loss and provide an atmosphere that legitimizes learning about these issues. The principles of awareness and open acknowledgment of loss and mourning are applicable to all health care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-395
Number of pages11
JournalDeath Education
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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