Fairfield University theater group members to augment nursing student learning in how to talk to patients


Media Advisory

Improvisational exercises are a way for students to practice having difficult conversations that can't be learned in textbooks

Image: Nursing studentsWhat: Fairfield University theater student actors and improv troupe members have been invited to role play patients to help nursing students enrolled in the pediatric nursing course learn how to communicate with patients. Because the course has been integrated with palliative and end of life care education, Fairfield University theater student Shannon Galgay '14 will help nursing students learn how to talk to terminally ill patients by playing a dying teenager in a series of improv exercises taking place in the School of Nursing's simulated hospital room. Galgay, a senior who acts on campus with the university's drama company, Theatre Fairfield, will take on the role of a terminally ill teenager in the simulation exercises that will all be done without a script. The junior nursing students, enrolled in the "Nursing of children and families" course (NS 323), will be asked to react off the tops of their heads and will not know what Galgay will say or how she will respond to them. Eileen O'Shea, DNP, RN, CHPPN, associate professor of nursing, developed this communication part of the course because she has found curricula and textbooks don't capture the gravity and the sensitivity of conversations that she knew to be true from her clinical expertise in pediatric nursing.

When: This Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Fairfield University's School of Nursing, Room 212, 2nd floor. The simulation exercises will take place in the Robin Kanarek Learning Resource Center, which provides a simulated hospital environment where students practice basic to advanced nursing skills.

Why: For children living with life-threatening conditions and their families, the need for specialized care is critical. Yet, most health care providers do not receive formal education concerning how to communicate sensitive issues such as goals of care, treatment options, including curative versus palliative care, and pain and symptom management. Recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing support the need to implement formal education specific to the care of children living with life-threatening conditions into curricula for medical and nursing school programs, so that future health care providers will not learn this care by trial and error.

Background: School of Nursing faculty will tape each simulation so that students can later watch what took place and then learn how they can improve their communication skill set. The student nurses will gain ideas of what to expect when interacting with a patient who has a terminal illness, as well as which communication techniques were effective and which were not effective from watching a video recording post role play, during debriefing.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 3, 2014

Vol. 46, No. 197