1. Deck, Michele L. MEd, BSN, RN, LCCE, FACCE

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I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know Aggie Merker, MSEd, BSN, RN-BC, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood, FL (, over the last several years. Aggie is someone who strives for excellence and creativity in all she does. She shares her idea for teaching creatively below.


"To remain in a state of constant readiness for a visit from the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, our hospital assigned teams to be responsible for the various standards. I was placed in charge of the team dedicated to teaching. As educators, we know that play increases happiness, relieves tension, decreases stress, fosters learning, improves communication, and aids in retention of knowledge and skills. We all like to be involved in fun and games! Why not then incorporate play into reviewing the components of successful patient and family education?


Our team decided to use the concept of Mr. Potato Head to demonstrate the significance of education in making patients WHOLE and their hospital stay successful-hence our team's mascot, Mr. Potato Ed. Born from a large piece of burlap filled with polyester stuffing, the empty sack was placed in a wheelchair and escorted around the hospital by a "Potato Educator." The mission was to equip Mr. Potato Ed with the necessary body parts to make his hospital stay a success. The Potato Educator carried a suitcase filled with a selection of various parts. As hospital personnel educated Mr. Potato Ed, they were permitted to choose and place a body part on the sack. Mr. Potato Ed gained his parts and personality through information! Here is an example of his visit to one unit: On arrival to the unit, Mr. Potato Ed was brought to his room and oriented to his surroundings. Sally, the patient care assistant, instructed Mr. Potato Ed on the operation of his bed controls and room lighting. After the instruction was given, Sally chose a pair of "eyes" and placed them on the sack. Next, Mr. Potato Ed was instructed on the use of the intercom system and telephone network. For this, Mr. Potato Ed was gifted with "ears." As the staff progressed with education, additional body parts were added: Diet instructions brought a mouth; level of activity, legs; use of his nasal cannula, a nose; and so on.


Mr. Potato Ed became a welcomed visitor throughout the hospital. Nursing units began to request visits from Mr. Potato Ed, and some even made their own unique body parts for Potato Ed to parade. His presence stimulated education of staff, patients, and visitors. As he traveled the halls, people would inquire about his "purpose," and the Potato Educator would take advantage of the opportunity to explain the importance of education in assuring a successful hospital stay. Mr. Potato Ed brought smiles, knowledge, and a reminder of the significance of education in providing safe, quality healthcare!


Before long, a family of Potato Eds was born. Pediatrics developed a "Tater Totter"; Maternal Child designed its own "Sweet Potato"; and Trauma services selected a "Mashed Potato."


In addition, a "potato bar" was designed and added to the hospital's cafeteria in honor of the Potato Ed campaign!"


Thanks, Aggie, for sharing your ideas with all of us!

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