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The content-laden nature of medical-surgical nursing is challenging to teach, and nursing students often struggle to assimilate important concepts.1 Complex theory related to organ failure, sepsis, and shock can be overwhelming for students to understand. Students may try to memorize information, forgoing critical-thinking processes and missing opportunities to develop key analytical practices. I developed skeleton outlines of assorted patient presentations. I ask students to describe how the patient would look, integrating relevant physical assessment and laboratory and medication data, and to select 3 priority nursing diagnoses (including priority interventions). Students also identify the patient's risk of multiple organ failure, sepsis, and/or shock, with a rationale. To build a patient, students are divided into small groups (4-6 students per group). Each group is given a skeleton outline of a patient. Different patients are assigned to each group. Students are given 30 to 45 minutes of class time to produce their work, using flip charts, stickers, and markers. Once complete, each group takes turns presenting its patient to the class. During the presentations, students are engaged in critical analysis, generating and sharing ideas with their peers, while responding to comments and questions from them. Students are enthusiastic about problem solving collaboratively with their peers and report that they bring together important concepts while building their patient, which helps them see the "big picture."


Kathleen Rodger, MN, RN, CMSN(C), Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. ([email protected]).




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