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Aim: The aim of the study was to explore nursing students’ first clinical experience with a dying patient or the dead.
Study Design: The study employed a qualitative case study design involving six students, homogenous in nature and purposively selected from the nursing department of a private university in Accra. We used in-depth interviews to solicit for lived experiences of the participants and the field data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis technique.
Results: Seven themes emerged from the analysis; reasons for choosing nursing as a profession, emotional and psychological effects, coping strategies, preparation of the student before clinical placement, access to counselling and future thoughts about nursing. Productive and unproductive forces are used to illustrate the experiences of the students. The results showed that nursing students were inadequately prepared for their first clinical practice and experienced varied negative emotional and psychological effects such as fear and stress. Some of the students were unable to cope with their experiences and as a result wanted to quit the training while others were able to accept the situation due to their personal disposition.
Conclusion: The authors recommend that students should be given adequate orientation or preparation before clinical placement and where possible, counselling services should be made available to them before, during and after their clinical placement both at the hospital and in the school.
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