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igh quality communication is central to nursing practice and therefore to nurse education. The quality of interaction between service users/ patients and inter-professional teams has a profound impact on perception of quality of care and positive outcomes. Creating spaces where reflective practice is encouraged allows students to be curious, experiment safely, make mistakes and try new ways of doing things. Didactic approaches impart knowledge and provide students with declarative knowledge but don’t always provide the opportunity to practice communication techniques or to explore in depth the attitudes and behaviours that influence their own knowledge. Drama and theatre are increasingly being used to create dynamic simulated learning environments where students can try out different communication techniques in a safe setting where there are multiple ways of communicating. A problem based learning focus allows students to reflect on their own experiences and to arrive at their own solutions, promoting deep learning as students use their own experiences and knowledge to problem solve. In 2015 a unit is being offered for the first time for students at Monash University, School of Nursing and Midwifery in their third year. The unit is largely being delivered online but there is a special workshop using Forum theatre developed by Augusto Boal. Forum theatre is focused on promoting dialogue between actors and audience members; it promotes transformation for social justice in the broader world and differs from traditional theatre which involves monologue. Simulated practices like Forum theatre allow students to address topics from practice within an educational setting, where they can safely develop self-awareness and knowledge to make sense of the difficult personal and professional issues encountered in complex health care environments. This is particularly important when it comes to intercultural issues and power relations. Such experiential techniques can help students to gain emotional competence, which in turn assists them to communicate effectively in a range of situations. Forum theatre has been used in nursing and

T R A N S F O R M I N G T H E N AT I O N . C O M . A U

health education to facilitate deeper and more critical reflective thinking, stimulate discussion and exploratory debate among student groups. It is used to facilitate high quality communication skills, critical reflective practice, emotional intelligence and empathy and appeals to a range of learning styles. Being able to engage in interactive workshops allows students to engage in complex issues increasing selfawareness using techniques include physical exercises and improvisations. The Forum theatre experience was made possible by the following people: Monash unit leader Dr Ruth DeSouza, who has a wide range of expertise in nursing, counselling, education and research, is working with two Forum theatre artists: Azja Kulpiska is a Master of Ethnolinguistics currently enrolled in Bachelor of Arts – Community Development. Tania Cañas has a Bachelor of Contemporary Arts – Drama and Psychology, Master of Communications, by Coursework and currently a PhD student at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships, in the Faculty of the VCA and MCM, University of Melbourne. References: McClimens, A., & Scott, R. (2007). Lights, camera, education! The potentials of forum theatre in a learning disability nursing program. Nurse Education Today, 27(3), 203-9. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2006.04.009 Middlewick, Y., Kettle, T. J., & Wilson, J. J. (2012). Curtains up! Using forum theatre to rehearse the art of communication in healthcare education. Nurse Education in Practice, 12(3), 139-42. doi:10.1016/j. nepr.2011.10.010 Wasylko, Y., & Stickley, T. (2003). Theatre and pedagogy: Using drama in mental health nurse education. Nurse Education Today, 23(6), 443-448. doi:10.1016/s0260-6917(03)00046-7

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