Majors collaborate for end-of-life scenarios

Majors collaborate for end-of-life scenarios

In the fall of 2017, Stevenson University’s nursing and theatre programs collaborated to use their skills to reenact a hospital scene, in hopes of preparing nursing students to inform a family of a loved one’s death.

Stevenson University’s nursing and theatre programs collaborate to help teach nursing students how to inform a family about the passing of a loved one. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Clark)

Terminally ill patients die daily in hospitals, and nurses often have to deliver the sad news to families. This new program at Stevenson helps nursing students learn and practice the best way to inform a family of their loved one’s death, according to an article from CBS Baltimore.

Theatre students acted as patients and family members, while the nursing students practiced giving the grieving loved ones comfort and counseling. The simulation  involved a young daughter in her early 20’s who had just died from cystic fibrosis.

The students were divided into groups of actors and nurses for the simulation, which took place over the course of two days.

“The theatre students get the opportunity to work on character development and improvisational skills, and the nursing students get to work with live human beings in an end-of-life scenario,” said theatre chair and program coordinator Ryan Clark, who oversees the new program. While theatre students are used to acting exercises, this simulation challenged them in new ways.

To make the project more realistic, the scene for the simulation was a living room in a small house. Additionally, the improvising of the theatre students offered a more realistic feel for the challenging task of delivering heartbreaking news to families, according to Jainaya Rice, a theatre student.

“This collaboration as a whole was quite emotional, but I think it was helpful to nursing students who will have to deal with this tough scenario,” said Rice.

The most valuable aspect that came from the project was the nursing students’ experience, as it is essential for them to have practice developing quality bedside manners, according to Jordan Brown, who played the youngest sibling of the grieving family.

“I think that everyone at Stevenson should pay greater attention to what the theatre program is doing. We have much more in store to show everyone, and we’re aiming to change the world! I mean, we’ve already made it on the news, right?” said Brown. Besides practicing similar scenarios with nursing students, this program aims to make sure all students know the importance of developing empathy for others.