Therese Smyth

How nurses experience death and dying in clinical practice

PhD candidate: Therese Smyth
Supervisors: Anton Isaacs, Keith Sutton

Dying is a singular process and can only be experienced by the individual patient themselves. As part of the therapeutic relationship nurses immerse themselves into their patients’ transition between life and death; and as such the nurse also has an experience of death and dying. Little is known as to how nurses process these experiences and to what extent the wisdom and ways of knowing is embedded in the nurses who are skilled in being with dying patients.

As a registered nurse/midwife of 43 years I have personally, and observed the practice of other nurses, experienced the transition between life and death of many patients; and as I come to the end of my nursing career I feel the need to give back. I think it is essential to identify and validate these experiences. I see the benefits of this PhD study in helping nurses to gain a deeper understanding of their clinical practice; adding to nursing education, and contributing to the evolving body of nursing knowledge.

As a continuation for myself I would like to continue to work in the nursing profession as a mentor or academic in advancing nursing knowledge and practice.