Students and faculty put acting skills to test for nursing simulation

A nurse leans over a moaning patient, administering fluids as she explains to the patient’s family members that there is nothing more she can do.

One would think this was a real scenario taking place in a hospital, but it’s not. It’s actually part of the School of Nursing’s “End of Life” simulation, which took place Monday at Belmont.

While the nurses were senior nursing students, the rest of the characters were staged: the patient was a mannequin and the family members were played by students and faculty members.

“The focus is for the nursing students to assess a dying patient and practice therapeutic communication with the patient and family,” nursing instructor Sara Camp said.

In Camp’s opinion, these types of mannequin-based simulations aren’t as common in nursing schools as you’d think. Usually, more focus is placed on going to observations at local hospitals.

“Studies show that graduating nurses don’t have training for end-of-life situations,” Camp said. “Belmont is on the cutting edge of mannequin use in nursing.”

Camp views mannequin simulations as a vital component of Belmont’s nursing program, as they help to more adequately prepare student nurses for their careers.

And she found the addition of family members even more beneficial, as it “makes it more real for the students.”

All of the students and faculty portraying family members were volunteering their time for the simulation.

But Belmont students were compensated with one hour of community service convocation for their time.

The motives for the volunteers varied. Some did it solely for the convocation credit, some did it because they enjoyed the acting challenge and others did it because they could relate to the pain of losing a family member.

“I liked seeing how the nurses interacted with the patient, and I wanted to see how nursing school would be,” student volunteer Paris Bluitt said.

The family members were responsible for asking the nurses scripted questions like why the doctor couldn’t try anything else to save the patient.

They were also encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the role, going so far as crying and pleading for the patient to keep fighting.

Bluitt didn’t have any prior acting experience, so she found it a little difficult to pretend the mannequin was really a close family member.

“It was very hard for me to interact with someone who was not real,” Bluitt said.

Still, Bluitt did enjoy the experience, as do most of the volunteers for these simulations.

“I would love to do it again,” she said.

If you’re interested in volunteering as a family member, simulations continue Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., 1:40 p.m. and 2:50 p.m. Volunteers are only needed for the first 30 minutes of the simulations and can contact Sara Camp at sara.camp@belmont.edu to sign up for a time

-Alina Tichacek

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