Quand les infirmiers/ères débutants/es rencontrent la mort : une expérience faite de révélations et de questionnements autour du manque et des capacités à bien agir

Authors: Laporte, Pauline
Advisor: Vonarx, Nicolas
Other Title(s): Quand les infirmiers débutants rencontrent la mort
Quand les infirmières débutantes rencontrent la mort
Abstract: In today's Western society, the subject of death is taboo. The effects of this are suffered by the nurse providing end-of-life care: self-doubt, fear of death, powerlessness, distress or grief. Her sense of anguish also has repercussions for the dying patient: caregivers struggle to communicate and they avoid contact. The level of professional experience as well as the age of the nurses does seem, however, to soften their relationship with death. We therefore considered the experience of the novice nurse when faced with death and dying, since young graduates are known to avoid care environments where death occurs on a regular basis, due to their negative association with these healthcare settings. As a consequence, there is expected to be a real shortage of healthcare workers in these sectors in a few years' time. In order to gain an understanding of their experience, we were inspired by a phenomenological sociology, acknowledging that any reality is based on frameworks and meanings within a given society. By means of semi-structured interviews, we collected accounts of the experience of 16 nurses working in a variety of environments (medicine, home-based care, A& E, intensive care, surgery, geriatrics, palliative care, etc.), since death is present everywhere. Bearing in mind that we are researchers, but first and foremost human beings imbued with a social origin, we subjected the material collected to a thematic analysis based on the postulate that no scientist can be entirely free of interpretative referents modulated by the society to which they relate. The results of our study have shown that novice nurses who encounter death and dying tend to undergo an experience on two complementary dimensions. The first relates to a somewhat revelatory experience, based on perceptions and stimulating various senses such as sight, hearing, touch and smell. Accordingly, the nature of this experience is one of discovery, since the prevailing sensations are unlike any that the caregivers are already familiar with. As such, dealing with the tragedy of death and dying involves undergoing a shocking encounter, with the intolerable sight of the dead body and the sound of the last dying breaths of the patient. Encountering the unspeakable also involves experiencing a sickening closeness due to the bodily odours of the dying individual and the smell of the end of life. The participants also felt the strangeness of death, carrying with it the life of the person as it releases from the body. Lastly, the respondents experienced the horror associated with the idea of seeing a dead body; a sense of terror heightened by the media, which today is deeply ingrained in our collective imagination. The second aspect of the experience undergone by nurses relates to concerns about failings and the ability to act appropriately. Caregivers felt alone at the moment of dealing with the tragedy of dying; they blamed themselves in cases of accidental death, supposing they had overlooked something; they rebelled against the behaviour of their peers who showed a lack of respect towards a dead body. Caregivers also met with a disarming scepticism about pain management for the dying patient and about the manner in which they evaluate a death. Those participants immersed in a culture of advanced medical science, continuing to push the boundaries of death to the detriment of the hopeless patient's well-being, have also been affected by feelings of helplessness and frustration. Lastly, they noted a certain satisfaction at the idea of having been able to properly fulfil their social function. With light now shed on these experiences, a number of recommendations have been made by professionals in the area of training, such as familiarization with death and dying through an understanding of the physiological stages of the dying process and knowing how to care for the body after death. Caregivers also expressed certain requirements for building solidarity and confidence, for example, by promoting dialogue with the interdisciplinary team, being aware of the patient's last wishes and understanding the palliative care phase, to help them in dealing with the tragedy of death. Keywords: death, novice nurse, experience, phenomenological, society.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2017
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/27783
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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