Nursing students partner with theatre, genetics students

MAGNOLIA Students from the Department of Theatre and Mass Communication and students from the Department of Nursing at Southern Arkansas University have teamed up to provide opportunities for nursing students to practice their skills through live enactments of patient/nurse scenarios.

The collaborative program was arranged by Assistant Professor of Nursing and Lab Skills Coordinator Ginger Covington and Assistant Professor of Theatre in Acting and Directing Clayton Guiltner.

The first of several simulations that will take place in the Wharton Nursing Building was Thursday., Oct. 6. Student actors Terrence Lee (Malaysia), Dedra Joiner (DeQueen), Nevin Edmondson (Marshall, Texas), Caleb Carrier (El Dorado) and Abby Taylor (Little Rock) portrayed ailing patients as the nursing students assessed them. Several scenarios were enacted, from abuse cases to drugs and mental ailments.

The actors utilized acting techniques learned in the Fundamentals of Acting class to help them achieve a realistic enactment.

“I often direct students to ‘stay in the moment’ when they are acting, not dropping character, no laughing,” Guiltner said. “These nursing simulations are a great way to drill our actors on ‘staying in the moment.”

The nurses benefit from the simulations by having opportunities to think on their feet and problem-solve in realistic situations.

“Several of the nurses were surprised and scared when we were belligerent,” said Edmondson, “But they handled the situation very well and they seemed to be having fun.”

There will be more of the simulations events this semester, the next of which will be Friday, Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Both the departments hope that the program can be an on-going aspect of the training students in both disciplines receive at Southern Arkansas University.

Another new nursing department collaboration – this time within the College of Science and Technology – has created an opportunity for senior nursing students to hone their skills while assisting genetics students with DNA research.

Senior Bachelor of Science-Nursing majors visited Dr. Shawn Krosnick’s Genetic Experiment Lab recently to draw blood from the genetic students as a part of a project that will allow the students to visualize their own chromosomes.

“The students gave the blood samples today and then centrifuged them so the white blood cells separated from the red blood cell,” said Krosnick.

After the Honors students processed the samples and prepared them for microscope viewing, the genetics students take a high quality image of their own DNA and then cut out each chromosome and arrange them in size order to prepare a karyotype, said Krosnick.

“DNA is a tiny molecule that students must assume is ‘real.’ This process gives them a chance to truly relate the principles of genetics to their own bodies at a cellular level.”

Dr. Bernadette Fincher, chair of the Department of Nursing, understands the benefits for both departments in such a partnership as that with the theatre students and the genetics students.

“Nursing students have been reaching out to different departments on campus to collaborate and enhance learning experiences for all departments involved,” said Fincher. “Getting to draw blood repeatedly is great practice for our senior nursing students, and we have gotten nothing but positive feedback from the theatre-nursing initiative.”

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