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King University News :: King’s Nursing and Theatre Students Act the Part through Live Simulation

King University’s School of Nursing, in collaboration with the Theatre Department, hosted the third Live Simulation event in April 2013 in an effort to better prepare nursing students for professional practice.  

The purpose of the Live Simulation project was to utilize live actors in various scenarios to study the undergraduate nursing student’s use of therapeutic communication skills, interview and assessment techniques, and their critical reasoning capacity when interacting with multiple unfolding live case scenarios.  Forty-three students and nine faculty members participated in the event.

“With the incorporation of live actors in the scenarios, professors are able to evaluate and provide immediate feedback to the students on their ability to communicate, assess and apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom,” said Dr. Lynn Holden, associate dean for King’s School of Nursing.  I first learned of this great pedagogy while I was a student in my doctoral program at Samford University.  I learned through my own research as a student how effective this teaching-learning, strategy can be.  Live Simulation has been proven throughout the literature to increase student engagement and knowledge retention on various levels.  During this time, the QEP Committee requested faculty with innovative projects related to oral or written communication across the King campus to submit project proposals for consideration.  Thus, the genesis of this event began as a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) project idea over three years ago.”  

The QEP project’s purpose was to assess and then improve oral communications and critical reasoning skills within the undergraduate nursing program through the use of theater students assuming the role of the patient.

“For the Live Simulation project the faculty designed the scenarios based on the students’ skill levels,” said Dr. Holden.  “After the scenarios were designed, the Nursing faculty met with Elizabeth Dollar, associate professor of Theatre and the director of King’s Theatre program, along with theatre students who were to serve as the patients during the Live Simulation.  Together the Nursing faculty collaborated with Professor Dollar and the Theatre students to create realistic patient situations for the nursing students to experience.  All of the details were rehearsed including the age appropriate makeup, clothing, props and scripts for each of the nine scenarios.  We go to great lengths to make the scenarios as realistic as possible.”  

In addition to the Nursing students working with Theatre students during the Live Simulation, they also had the opportunity to work with Sim-Man, a high-fidelity mannequin that is completely computerized.  

At the end of each scenario, students benefited from a debriefing session conducted by the nursing faculty.  This provided students the opportunity to review their experience, what they felt went well, and what areas they could improve upon.

Dr. Holden commented, “This year, Nurse Educator students in King’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program also participated in the Live Simulation event.  The MSN students were afforded the opportunity to gain knowledge first hand through participating in supporting acting roles and as scenario evaluators.”  

Holden added, “This has been a truly positive collaborative learning experience for both Nursing and Theatre students.”

Dr. Katie Vande Brake, dean of King’s School of Arts and Sciences stated, “The collaboration between Nursing and Theatre has proven to be a great success, not only for the students but for faculty, as well.  The partnership has yielded several faculty presentations to be delivered later this year.” 

Dr. Holden’s and Professor Dollar’s abstract proposal, “Acting the Part through Live Simulation: An Interdisciplinary QEP Project with an Emphasis on Improved Communications,” was accepted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for their 2013 Annual Meeting in Atlanta and their abstract entitled “Acting with Care: Student Nurses and Actors Engage in Collaborative Learning” will be presented at the Appalachian College Association Annual Summit Conference in October.  

For more information about King’s School of Nursing, visit, or for King’s Theatre Department, visit, or contact the Office of Admissions at 800.362.0014 or


King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities.  Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing.  A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available.  King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity athletic teams.  For more information about King University, visit  King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability.  King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia.  For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.