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Nursing students interact with a participant in the Making It Real program. Photo: Jack Schmidt.

Consumers help students develop therapeutic communication

The University of Technology Sydney is bringing nursing students together with people who have lived experience of mental illness to build rapport and empathy.

In a collaboration with fellow UTS academics and healthcare consumers, health academic Fiona Orr developed the 'Making It Real' simulation, which gives third-year nursing students the opportunity to practise newly learnt, recovery-focused, therapeutic communication skills in a safe, simulated environment.

Students speak freely with consumers and learn about their healthcare experiences and recovery process.

Orr said being able to show sensitivity and respect, build rapport and demonstrate empathy are vital skills that facilitate the development of trusting, collaborative partnerships between healthcare providers and consumers.

"It's a privilege to be with people, to listen to their story and to support and assist them in whichever ways you can," she added. "When someone experiences a mental illness, they can feel very vulnerable, so it's really important that nurses are trustworthy, compassionate and interested in supporting the person.

Nursing Review sat down with Orr to learn more about ‘Making it Real’ and the skills students develop through this approach to learning.

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One comment

  1. Fiona Orr is absolutely right and I am so encouraged by your article. Empathy is a matter of ‘seeing the person’ listening to their story and respecting their role in the health care being provided.
    See the White Paper “Nurses are Essential to Health and Aged Care Reform” presented by the Australian College of Nursing to the parliamentary breakfast held 11 October 2016. A successful presentation attended by the Prime Minister, Minister for Health, Ministers for Medicare and influential others as well as prominent nurses invited from all over Australia. I proudly participated in the conversation for two and a half years and two papers I have written have recently been published in an e book and one of the imminent organisational journals. P.D.Macbeth RN MACN

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