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Using the emotion of art to build cohesion, collaboration and empathy between student nurses

Nilson, C. (2008) Using the emotion of art to build cohesion, collaboration and empathy between student nurses. In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2008: Preparing for the graduate of 2015, 30 - 31 January 2008, Curtin University, Perth

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Art therapy is used as a tool for personal growth and greater self-understanding. Art enhances communication between individuals, groups and professional teams and is an effective tool to explore change.

In 2006, I developed and coordinated a third year Bachelor of Nursing unit on Maternal and Newborn Health Care. The first cohort of the Bachelor of Nursing students was entering their final year. Being a small group, having shared two years together, one would have thought that they would be supportive and cohesive. However to the contrary, the group was fragmented, insular and remote, with little demonstration of compassion or empathy for one another. Knowing that the ability to communicate and collaborate is essential to working well within the interdisciplinary health team, the group needed to evolve from being distant individuals with a student mindset to a model of engagement.

The project describes the changes in the dynamics of the group and personal growth of the students as a result of using art therapy as an assessable component in the unit. The students were required to develop an artwork, which reflected their interpretations, emotions and feelings about the process of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Not only did the activity develop an overwhelming change of individual appreciation for one another, but the marked change in their attitudes and development toward professional accountability was noted by lecturers and unit coordinators who taught the students in their following and final semester.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Nursing & Midwifery
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