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US academic uses board game to teach ‘art of nursing’

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A US nursing academic has created a board game designed to help students learn about the unpredictable and ever changing nature of what they are likely to experience on the wards.

“What Would Socrates Think?”

“What Would Socrates Think?”

Dr Hallie Bensinger, an advanced practice nurse and instructor at the University of Tennessee, came up with the idea for the game in an effort to better engage her students.

Students roll a dice to create a series of patient scenarios designed to challenge them with unpredictable and constantly changing patient cases.

They must think through problems, accounting for pathophysiology, pharmacology, labs, vital signs, chief complaint and changing situation in order to win award cards. An instructor facilitates game play by encouraging questions and discussion.

For example, a sequence of dice rolls may create the following story – A 68-year-old male transfers from a nursing home to the hospital, with no known family in the area, a high white blood count, high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease and cloudy urine.

The object of the game is then for students to make correct clinical decisions based on the scenario described and earn “improved cards”. If they make errors, the patient’s condition worsens and they get a “suffered setback” card.

Dr Bensinger has dubbed her critical-thinking game “What Would Socrates Think?”.

Dr Hallie Bensinger

Dr Hallie Bensinger from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

She said: “You have to really pull from what you know and think on your feet. The game presents a variety of unpredictable patient scenarios just like you see on the floor. I’ve personally used it with more than 100 students.”

The game was first used in a pilot study among her students at the university, where it received positive feedback in questionnaires. It is currently undergoing a larger pilot study.

In 2012, Dr Bensinger also founded her own company, LifeCareSim, to develop educational games to help students master the art of nursing. “What Would Socrates Think?” became its first product in November.  

The company is developing a second product called “The Call Light Game” that can be combined with low-fidelity mannequins to simulate a ward. The game was presented last month at the Annual International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare in San Francisco.


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