Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Deborah A. Lewis
The exposure of newly graduated nurses to the death of their patients causes a significant emotional impact that may affect the nurses' job performance and social interaction with the patients' families. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the clinical circumstances, the impact, the challenges and rewards of the nurses' first experiences with the death of a patient. This education program focuses improving knowledge and decreasing negative feelings of newly graduated nurses towards death and supporting their understanding of this phenomenon as one that is part of nursing professional practice. Knowles' theory of adult learning informed this project. Fifteen newly graduated nurses who work in a hospital in a metropolitan area of Puerto Rico participated in the education program that included a pretest and posttest questionnaire measuring the impact of the death of patients on newly graduated nurses and the actions to be taken by nursing professionals following the patient's death. The results of the project show that newly graduated nurses conceive the death of a patient as a significant event that has a high emotional impact and is a strong experience for most of the nurses. Almost all the participants (93%) completely agreed that after finishing the course, they felt an increase in their knowledge about the subject. This project will contribute to social change by providing a systematic, practical, and appropriate educational process to help newly graduated nurses' cope with the death of their patients. This educational project could also serve as a basis for development of protocols and policies to guide the process of end of life care for nursing professionals who face the death of their patients in hospital environments.