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  • Understanding client emotions: Nursing students learn through art

    Friday, October 18, 2019
    News Releases
    Lori Lee Pike

    Nursing students are learning to empathize emotionally with clients/patients, a core nursing education objective, in a non-traditional way.

    In the first year nursing course: Developing Therapeutic Relationships students were asked to paint rocks with phrases, words or illustrations that depict the emotions that a client might be experiencing.

    “The goal of the project is to help nursing students develop a deeper understanding of what a client might be feeling,” said Trudy Read, nurse educator with the Western Regional School of Nursing.  “Effective interpersonal communication is critical to proving safe, quality health care. A strong understanding of health care is fundamental and a nurse also has the responsibility to care for their clients’ emotional well being through empathy by showing respect, developing trust and building rapport with clients as they receive care or treatment.”

    Through this assignment, students were asked to consider the following ideas as they painted rocks: what emotions would a client face, how can the emotion be demonstrated through art and, finally, what tools or communication skills could a nurse use to assist a client experiencing that emotion?

    This is the first time for such a project, designed to encourage idea sharing, increase students’ confidence in public speaking, learn from others’ viewpoints and to communicate verbally – all important communication skills they are being taught in class.

    There was a wide range of emotion depicted on the rocks: optimism, hope and joy to loneliness, confusion and fear.

    “Heartbreak was the emotion I chose,” said one student. “I decided to paint a broken heart on a clouded blue surface to express my emotion. Blue represents the sadness attached to heartbreak, and the heart is broken to show the real emotions that happens often with loss, something that can happen lot in the hospital.”

    “My rock depicts hope, security and caring. ‘Snoopy and Woodstock on a rainy day.’” said another student. “Snoopy is protecting Woodstock from the rain, the same way nurses use an umbrella to shed hope, security and caring to their patients during their darkest and rainiest days.”

    Students are encouraged to share their art work with others, by placing their creatively designed rocks on the Rock Wall in Corner Brook, or on any walking trail.

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