Hillary Tucker

Death impacts everyone

Hillary shares how she became passionate about end-of-life, not only to support patients, but to support nurses as they handle these touching and tough experiences.

portrait of Hillary Tucker, nurse at UC Davis Health


Yeah. Death, we found, can be so personal because it's not just, it takes into a patient's cultural values but it also takes into the nurses their own personal values. We had found that each unit throughout the hospital really experiences death differently and copes with it differently, and that different units have different support systems there and they'd have different processes and so we felt like putting all of these resources together in one place where anyone could access them or to understand what they are and then know who a contact person is that might help them to implement these kinds of resources in their units, would help to give them maybe what they needed to help them cope with death.

Obviously, taking care of the patient and the family is our first priority but we also found that there's units that have great projects that help to focus on taking care of the nurse and their experience with death. When doing this project we assessed the different resources that were available in the hospital as well as looked at the time it takes for a nurse to emotionally, physically recover from participating in the death of a patient and that, on average, a nurse really needs about 30 minutes after caring for a patient to really re-center themselves and re-focus.

That was where my passion for the end-of-life came in, is I had cared for a patient that was in CTICU in bed seven and right next to us in bed eight another patient coded. It was a very traumatic code and a lengthy code that we were very close with the family. Then after, I had to return caring for my patient in the bed next door and put completely aside everything that had just happened and you can't just put that stuff aside, it takes time to process it and move through those emotions.