Actors portray patients

Published: 20 January 2016

One patient is depressed and has lost hope of his situation, while another is psychotic with paranoid features.
These are some of the cases that nursing students encountered during an exercise with actors.

– It was incredibly informative and useful. Next time I face a similar patient cases I will remember this experience and easier handle the situation, says nursing student Ebba Wallmark, who met a depressed patient with delusions.

Interpret the body language

The exercise is a simulation, but with real people instead of dolls. Patients are played by experienced actors who portray patients with different symptoms. The benefits of live interpretation is that another dimension is added, such as body language and facial expressions, which means that students encounter an extremely lifelike situation.

– It is difficult to form an idea from a book what it is like in reality when a person is not behaving as expected. How is a person with delusions acting and what are the difficulties in communicating? This exercise gives students the tools to handle these situations, says Johanna Sundbaum, teacher on the Nursing Programme at Luleå University of Technology.

Exercise raises questions and thoughts

Nursing students are divided into two groups. They face a total of ten cases with patients who have psychiatric or geriatric diseases. In each situation one student acts the role of the nurse and the others observe the course of events.
Afterwards, there is a discussion with a natural connection between the patient case, the literature and previously discussions in the lectures. The patient cases often raises questions and thoughts about possible situations in the future.

Permanent feature in the education

This type of simulation has previously been tested as a pilot project on the nursing programme at Luleå University of Technology. This time, funds were granted from the university as an educational development. The goal is to make simulation with interpretations by actors a permanent feature in the education.

The feedback teacher Anja Söderberg received from students is that this exercise is very appreciated.

– The students feel that they learn a lot this way, and they want more similar exercises. They thought it was a good experience to meet these patients in a real-life scenario. Even to see their classmates meet patients and then discuss and reflect on the different situations have been seen as very rewarding. This is a way to extend and illustrate what they read about in the literature, which can provide a greater understanding and knowledge.

The patients are played by Dan Swärdh and Maria Gotfredsen, actors from Theatre Scratch.