For the last four years, during the fall semester, Maryanne Sandberg, assistant professor of nursing, has been dragging a large, blue trunk with gold detailing across campus for a special presentation. Inside is a manikin torso she uses for a Foley catheter demonstration in Stephanie Conner's English 1101 courses. Conner is an assistant professor of English at the College of Coastal Georgia, and her 1101 course is comprised of first-year students who have expressed an initial interest in pursuing a nursing degree. The class has been tailored toward the types of writing techniques, and critical thinking skills students will need as medical professionals. Sandberg's yearly demonstrations are helping students connect what they are learning in English class to a future career in nursing.
Having good communication skills is essential for nurses. Nurses' language when addressing one another is vastly different from how nurses speak to patients, which is why it is vital for nurses to communicate clearly and plainly when giving directions.
Sandberg starts her presentation off by talking to students about the importance of clear communication and writing. For a partner activity, students are paired up, with one student verbally explaining how to draw a simple picture of interlocking shapes to the other. Sandberg then walks students through creating a sterile field, how to put on gloves, and demonstrates how to insert a catheter using the manikin. While Sandberg explains each step, students are taking notes. After the procedure, a student volunteers to put on the sterile gloves and do the Foley catheter technique by following the instructions written down by a classmate. During this recent demonstration, student Nicole Astacio volunteered to do the catheter.
"We were able to demonstrate how closely linked strong communication skills are to the healthcare professions," Conner said. "Students were engaged and excited to see a nursing procedure this early in their education. Dr. Sandberg made the classes feel comfortable, and she did a fantastic job of explaining the procedure and the importance of caring in the nursing profession. I am so grateful to have the chance to work with her in a cross-disciplinary environment."
Conner described Sandberg's help in shaping the course as "invaluable." Sandberg hopes that the development of Nursing Learning Communities on campus continues and that there will be more collaborations with different departments across campus to show pre-nursing students how important core courses are in nursing.
"Stephanie ties in the importance of clear communication with patient care beautifully," Sandberg said. "The days I go to her class and read my medical narrative and do the communication class are some of the highlights of my fall semester every year. Carrying the manikin torso across campus is interesting as well."
Sandberg and Conner are considering submitting this student learning experience to an academic journal and presenting it at a conference together. Last year Conner presented their collaboration at the Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Conner's students are currently working on a project to create a video, podcast, or slide presentation delivering instructions on a task of their choice, such as a do-it-yourself activity or college procedure. This assignment will further reinforce the importance of both receiving instructions and then passing clear instructions on to patients.