On two days at the end of August, seven SaddleBrooke Ranch residents volunteered to help another SaddleBrooke Ranch resident to act as simulated psychology patients for the nursing program at the U of A College of Nursing. The conditions which the volunteers could choose to represent included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and dementia. Beth Lee the other Ranch resident is in charge of this program. This is Beth’s third year at the University of Arizona College of Nursing as a course co-chair and instructor for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing course for Bachelor of Science students. Beth has been a psychiatric nurse for 31 years. In addition to having a master’s degree in nursing, Beth is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Nursing practice at Arizona State University.
All the volunteers were provided training. This training included a two hour in-person meeting at the Ranch House. Volunteers were given written material about the condition they were to represent along with links to videos to watch. After the meeting all the volunteers were treated to lunch at the Ranch House.
Beth said that this program is important because it allows students to practice and make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment without harming a patient. The interviews are expected to decrease a student’s fear and anxiety related to working with mentally ill clients while increasing their confidence. Last semester there were only six student-volunteer interviews. The students greatly enjoyed the program and asked for more interviews to be offered. This semester 33 student-volunteer interviews were offered. Because of the importance and the positive response from the students, Beth is conducting a study to show the importance of this program and plans to publish her findings at a nursing conference and/or as a peer-reviewed nursing journal article. She is hopeful to apply for grants to obtain funding to expand the program.
This semester the Ranch volunteers included Linda Harvey, Cheryl Margolis, Lisa Brown, Beth Hinton, Susan Engebretson, Sandy Jessop, and Steve Weiss. Volunteers were also provided by the college. The only requirement to be a volunteer is to understand how a person with the chosen condition will act and to play the role with excitement. Linda Harvey, who is a first time volunteer this semester, said she enjoyed the interviews and is looking forward to being part of the volunteer group next time. Because of the desire to have more interviews, Beth is looking for more people to volunteer for next semester to represent one of these psychiatric conditions. If interested please contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.