Innovative Collaboration Between Nursing and Theatre Programs

August 01, 2012

End-of-life care is an essential part of undergraduate nursing education, but students are not always exposed to an actual end-of-life situation during their clinical rotations. An innovative pilot program is designed to address this problem having live actors and theatre faculty simulate real-life situations as part of undergraduate nursing education. The program was created by Wheelock Family Theatre Producer Dr. Wendy Lement, Regis College nursing faculty member Dr. Janice Tuxbury, and Patricia McCauley is Director of the Regis College Clinical Resource and Simulation Center.

The pilot project was implemented to evaluate the use of forum theater to teach end-of-life care to undergraduate nursing students. The simulation used live actors, with theatre faculty and students playing the roles of a hospice patient, family members, and nursing students providing end-of-life care. Additional nursing students were participant observers. Using forum theatre methods, students identified important moments that occurred during the simulation and suggested alternative actions for those moments.

The simulation was repeated using those alternatives and was evaluated by the students. Group debriefing was provided by nursing faculty with all students. A reflective journal entry was completed by all students. Project outcomes indicated that forum theatre was an effective teaching method for the topic of end-of-life care.

The program was written up in the Journal of Nursing Education, where you can read the full article. (Note: You must be on the Wheelock campus to access the article.)

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