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ABSTRACT: This paper reports how, through reflective collaboration between two students, a practitioner and a health lecturer, prospective professional nurses can develop and implement effective strategies to deal with emotionally challenging situations. Using the example of unexpected child death, issues affecting the support for the student provided in both clinical and formal educational settings are explored. The ability to apply a previous learning experience in a further critical situation was found to be dependent on cultural and contextual changes. Following on from the student experience it is demonstrated how learning about emotionally challenging situations can be achieved through reflection in conjunction with supportive processes provided by both practice and education. A supportive network in place for practitioners supporting students needs to be facilitated through mechanisms such as clinical supervision. The new Diploma in Nursing curriculum is examined for its potential to provide a seamless transitional support network from early student experience to experienced practitioner and throughout a career of life-long learning. There is a need for research that critically examines whether the developing system of reflection in education and practice is effective in helping students learn about emotionally challenging situations.
Nurse education in practice 07/2004; 4(2):107-13.