Written by Cale Engelkes
Nursing students have a very difficult job. Between rigorous studying and diligent memorization, they also must mentally prepare themselves to be trusted with the health and well-being of patients that come to their hospital or clinic. However, they never truly know what to expect during their prep courses, as the mannequins that they operate on don’t move or act like real people. But what if they did?
Last semester, twelve brave theatre students prepared to help the nurses do just that: deal with the human side of the industry they’re studying to be a part of. These twelve students, under the direction of Associate Professor and Director of Theatre Joe Obermuller and Assistant Professor of Nursing Bryan Wermers, practiced four scenarios to place the nursing students into. These four simulations included a patient suffering from an intensive asthma attack, an abusive parent with a bruised child where something is clearly amiss, a dehydrated baby with parents that don’t believe in modern medicine, and a scenario where all the possible alarms are blaring from the get-go. These scenarios helped prepare nursing students for some of the possibilities that come with dealing with the public. After every scenario, Bryan would sit down with the actors and nurses and debrief, allowing the students on both sides of the equation some much-needed levity in these emotion-driven cases.
Tristan Taylor, a senior theatre studies major, was one of these twelve actors. When asked what he thought was the most important aspect of using live actors instead of mannequins, he responded, “The importance of effective communication. A lot of my ‘characters’ were frazzled, passive-aggressive dads that wanted their children to be better and didn’t know what to do. You don’t get that from a mannequin. You need a real person there to make sure the nurses know what they’re getting into”.
Nursing simulation and colloquium will be offered again in the fall, allowing more fantastic work to be done between the nursing and theatre departments.
Photos courtesy of Josh Werre