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The Impact of Personal Loss on the Experience of Health Professions: Graduate Students in End-of-Life and Bereavement Care

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This study explored the impact of prior personal experience with grief on self-reported personal and professional development of graduate students in nursing, social work, counseling, pastoral care, and genetic counseling involved as cofacilitators in bereavement support groups, and of medical students observing interdisciplinary inpatient palliative care. Personal experience with death of a family member or close friend was reported in 80% of the 35 participating students. Findings suggest that grief and the students' construction of the meaning of their loss can mediate the students' developing sense of self as a professional helper. Active engagement with suffering persons, the opportunity for self-disclosure and reflection, and teacher-facilitator provision of emotional guidance and modeling contributed positively to learning.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 2: College of Nursing, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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