(Article from Fall 2015 Reflections Alumni Magazine)
By Doug Goodnough
Siena Heights University’s nursing program was the recipient of the Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
SHU earned the honor in the Small Schools category. The awards program recognizes the outstanding work of AACN member schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change. Innovation awards, including monetary prize of $1,000, are given annually in four institutional categories: Small Schools; Academic Health Center (AHC); Private Schools without an AHC; and Public Schools without an AHC.
According to Dr. Sue Idczak, SHU’s director of nursing, the program was honored for a unique series of live training simulations conducted in 2013-14 that involved students from nursing, theater and social work programs. Under the faculty’s guidance and supervision, specific scenarios involving the care of older adults were recreated.
“Inter-professional education is becoming such a big thing,” said Idczak, who credited SHU Assistant Professor of Nursing Kelli Kusisto for the creation and development of the simulations. “It really brought liberal arts into the nursing field.”
Kusisto, whose specialty is teaching gerontology courses, got the idea after attending a nursing conference that addressed improving the care of older adults.
“I had to come up with a project that would advance the whole concept,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work with other disciplines around campus. I thought, ‘What if we used theater students to be our patients, and social work student could collaborate with our nursing students?’ ”
Using a National League of Nurses simulation, Kusisto worked with SHU nursing, theater and social work faculty for more than a year before the simulations were implemented. After researching and studying their patient’s condition, groups of approximately 8-10 students went through an “authentic experience,” Kusisto said. Nursing students were charged with transitioning patients from an acute care facility to a rehabilitation center, working with social work students.
“We didn’t make the patients look old, but it came off as if they were really old,” she said of the roles theater students played as patients and family members. “They had a specific role to play out.”
“Theater students were responsible for the full research of each illness,” said SHU Professor of Theater Mark DiPietro on the role his students played. “Coming together and integrating disciplines gave each student a unique perspective on students outside his or her discipline. An hour of watching the film and debriefing gave students the opportunity to integrate ideas and deconstruct actor, nurse and social work performers. Students mentioned over and over again how beneficial and rewarding the collaboration was.
“And they had to memorize a great deal, including lists of medicines and what each one did,” he added.
The simulations were so successful Idczak said SHU’s nursing program is developing a “Simulation and Clinical Reasoning” course that will be available in the fall 2016 semester.
“Kelli’s creativity in nursing has stimulated other faculty,” Idczak said. “This is part of what liberal arts and critical thinking is all about.”
SHU received the award during the AACN’s fall meeting Oct. 26 in Washington, D.C.