In the news: Circus performers teach nursing students Clowning 101

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, December 15, 2008

Many valuable lessons learned in nursing school stem from the bedside, while others start at the circus.

Performers from the Big Apple Circus led 132 students at New York University's College of Nursing through "clowning" workshops this fall. The workshops, which covered how clown techniques can be applied in the clinical setting, aimed to help students sharpen their observational skills to better sense patients' moods and be alert to abrupt changes.

The training circus performers, who aren't clowns when it comes to reading and serving patients' emotional needs, have been visiting pediatric units and lifting the spirits of ill children for more than 20 years. They guided the students through a number of exercises, such as one that involved individually sending students out of a room and having the other students rearrange furniture or clothing. Upon return the student was asked to identify the changes.

After honing their clown skills, students commented on overcoming some of the anxieties of working with seriously ill patients and developing a consciousness to read and react to patients' facial expressions.

Source: The New York Times


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