In healthcare, professional interaction skills are needed not only in patient contacts but also when working in interprofessional teams. Team members have different backgrounds, and they might have different understanding of how to work together. This underlines the importance of clear communication and teamwork. (Schmutz, Meier & Manser 2019.) Communication plays an important part in developing collaboration in teams and in the development of interprofessional empathetic relationships (Adamson et al. 2018).
Already from the beginning of the studies, Metropolia UAS`s Degree Programme in Nursing Curricula (Metropolia UAS 2022) requires the student to grow their understanding about the significance of ethics and professional interaction, and consider patient’s needs for psychosocial support. The students also need to practice working methods considering patient safety and the significance of professional interaction.
As a Metropolia master`s student in the Creativity and Arts in Social and Health Fields degree programme, I had an opportunity to instruct a teamwork and communication workshop using drama-based exercises. Drama-based exercises and games may be used to warm up, introduce and practice new skills, improve concentration and have fun. A recent literature review by Jeffries et al. (2021) brings out the ways how drama can support student learning and professional development. Drama-based working methods can enhance empathy, emotional engagement, and empowerment, also increase understanding of one’s own professional identity, self-awareness, self-reflection and improve communication skills. In addition, using drama can develop reflective skills. There is strong evidence of the positive role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing. A review conducted by the World Health Organization summarizes evidence from more than 900 such studies (Fancourt & Finn 2019).
The three-hour drama-based workshop was conducted with international students in the advanced phase of the Degree program in Nursing, with two Metropolia nursing lecturers observing. The workshop consisted of exercises and reflective discussions. The discussion topics included teamwork interaction, communication skills and presence as key factors related to patient safety behaviour and empathy in healthcare.
Students experienced the workshop as very important and useful, fun, stress relieving and they got their minds rested. They felt the atmosphere was safe and it was meaningful to hear others` thoughts, have good discussions and to connect with fellow classmates. As they expressed it, the workshop gave them:
“Awareness of yourself and others”, “What wasn`t said with words was felt”, “Thank you for making me feel better”, “I feel relieved and fresh”, “The workshop was really great and it is one way to connect with our fellow classmate and hopefully it will be the same in the future”, “It helped me get comfortable with my classmates”, “Engagement between teacher and other classmates”.
As take-home messages, elements taken into studies and work, the students mentioned the need for practicing good listening and acknowledgement skills in conversations with colleagues and patients:
“Closed-loop-conversations with colleagues & patients”, “Communication is a key to have on successful outcome of the situation”, “It`s about how I focus”, “Repeating messages & hearing to confirm”, “Importance of communication (effective), importance of listening to self and others, trust”.
The importance of eye contact and touch in human connection were mentioned several times as very meaningful techniques in communication:
“The importance of human connection and touch”, “Eye to eye contact seems so simple but gives connection to someone”, “That human contact holds more importance than I thought originally”.
In addition, the students found tips for releasing stress and better concentration. As they expressed it:
“There is a touch that makes us feel that today is gonna be okay so just breathe and relax”, “Staying calm and staying focused”.
Based on feedback this workshop was well accepted and beneficial. The exercises seemed to foster teamwork and communication skills and evoked thoughts about empathy. The students wished the workshop to be regular. However, it is important to keep in mind, that this kind of activity may not be comfortable for everyone.
Interaction and teamwork exercises are beneficial
Two Metropolia nursing lecturers were observing the workshop.
“During the workshop, the students threw themselves into the exercises and learning seemed to be both fun and relaxing, but at the same time thought-provoking and insightful. We see the importance of interaction and teamwork exercises when studying to become a nurse. Our students are in the graduation phase, so the timing was suitable for this kind of exercise. The workshop sparked a lot of discussion among the students and based on the feedback given to us, they found the exercises very useful. Minna-Maria had a calm but at the same time inspiring and encouraging way of guiding the workshop, and the students clearly liked the experiential learning method.”
The workshop also became a significant learning experience for the organizers, and they were glad that their activity was well received and appreciated. It made a milestone also for them as future professionals.
References & interesting readings
Adamson, K., Loomis, C., Cadell, S., & Verweel, L.C. 2018. Interprofessional empathy: A four-stage model for a new understanding of teamwork. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2018 Nov; 32(6), 752-761
Metropolia UAS 2022. Degree Programme in Nursing, Curricula 2022-2013. Study guide. https://opinto-opas.metropolia.fi/88094/en/108/70308?lang=en
Dehnavi, M., Estebsari, F., Kandi, Z.R.K., Milani, A.S., Hemmati, M., Nasab, A.F., & Mostafaie, D. 2022. The correlation between emotional intelligence and clinical competence in nurses working in special care units: A cross-sectional study. Nurse education today 2022, Vol.116, p.105453-105453
Fancourt, D. & Finn, S. 2019. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review. Health Evidence Network synthesis report 67, WHO. https://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/what-is-the-evidence-on-the-role-of-the-arts-in-improving-health-and-well-being-a-scoping-review-2019
Jefferies, D., Glew, P. Karhani, Z., McNally, S. & Ramjan, L.M. 2021. The educational benefits of drama in nursing education: A critical literature review. Nurse Education Today Volume 98, March 2021, 104669
Raatikainen, E., Rauhala, L. A., & Mäenpää, S. 2017. Qualified Empathy. A key element for an empowerment professional. Sosiaalipedagoginen aikakauskirja, 18, 113–21
Schmutz, J.B., Meier, L.L. & Manser, T. 2019. How effective is teamwork really? The relationship between teamwork and performance in healthcare teams: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/9/e028280
Minna-Maria Mattila, Metropolia master`s degree student
I work at medical students` skill lab at University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine. I also work as part-time entrepreneur in arts-based workshops. I have a degree in nursing (RN, BN) and I have studied drama education to support arts-based activities. I have a long experience and studies in the field of performing arts.
Students and lecturers have given permission to use comments and quotes.
The Master’s degree in Creativity and Arts in Social and Health Fields (CRASH) provides strong competences to act as a developer, innovator, expert, and leader in using creativity and arts in various operating environments in social and health fields. It also gives competences to work in expert positions in the social and health sector. Creativity and different ways to express it, as well as cultural activities and arts related experiences, belong to all people as part of a good and meaningful life. The aim of CRASH is to strengthen the professional competences needed when promoting health, well-being, inclusion, and a sense of community in society through creativity and arts. You can read more about the programme here