For the last two semesters I’ve been working in the nursing simulation lab at a community college. A colleague and I have been running pediatric acute care simulations because there aren’t any hospital inpatient units in the area. One of the simulations involves a child who is brought into the hospital with epiglotitis. The manikin is cyanotic and has drool (personal lubricant) running down his chin. His parent tells the nurses several times he cannot talk and he must be sitting upright in order to breath. Despite all the symptoms of epiglotitis the students often do not recognize it.
After the simulation debriefing, my colleague tells a real life nursing story. One morning, after report she entered a patient room. In the crib was a six month old baby. He was sitting straight up in bed, leaning forward with his chin and neck extended forward as far as he could get it. His hospital gown was soaked with oral secretions and he was gray. She grabbed the suction catheter and then remembered the ‘four D’s of epiglotitis’. Instead of suctioning the child she called the doctor who came and intubated him. The child was started on antibiotics and went home in two days. Over and over the students remark how that story drove home the simulation for them. They too are eager to share stories that are prompted by the simulations.
In her article ‘Narrative Pedagogy, Technology, and Curriculum Transformation in Nursing Education’ Ruth Grendall, DNS, RN reminds us of the impact story-telling has on learning. “It promotes a personal association as the listener visualizes the story’s characters and surrounding events. Listeners often have vivid recall of narrative details long after the story is told. The meaning of the story is discovered through reflection and interpretation”. Dr. Grendell suggests narrative pedagogies “promote holistic thinking” and improve learning outcomes when used in tandem with technology. This certainly seems to be the case in my simulation lab. I too, feel that personal stories provide a humanistic dimension to the technological world of simulation.
Gina Thomas, RN
Grendell, R. (2011). Narrative pedagogy, technology, and curriculum transformation in nursing education, Journal of Leadership Studies 4(4), 65-67. doi: 10.1002/jls.20197