From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 15, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Using interactive theater as a simulation approach

Simulation is truly the latest hot topic in continuing education in the healthcare setting. Many of us remember when resuscitation mannequins were the only simulation equipment available, and that these mannequins did nothing more than have a chest that expanded when rescue breathing was performed. Today equipment is sophisticated (and expensive) and allows learners to practice a skill in real life simulations until they are confident of their abilities.

In the March/April 2011 issue of the Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, the use of a different type of simulation, interactive theater, was described. This modality involves having learners participate in skits designed to place them in simulated situations of varying degrees of complexity and stress. The authors of the article used this approach to help staff members develop assertive communication skills to deal with verbal abuse.

Professional actors acted out scenes based on clinical scenarios and learners/participants entered into the scenarios at any point to change the way communication was going and work toward establishing a positive outcome.

It is not necessary to hire professional actors if you have enough members of the professional development department who are comfortable assuming acting roles. In fact, this type of theater experience can be adapted to fit the needs of your organization as well as your budget. Read the article and think about how this type of simulation can be used in your setting.

Meng, A. L., & Sullivan, J. (2011). Interactive theater. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 27(2), 65-68.

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