Quality care for clients with mental illness begins in the classroom. This article describes an effective use of drama with undergraduate nursing students. Because of nursing students' fear and anxiety related to the psychiatric-mental health clinical experience, dramatic presentations are used as a way to expose students to a "real-life" client in a controlled setting. A student volunteer portraying a nurse and the faculty person portraying an individual with a mental illness interact without a written script in front of the class. Following the depiction, the class is encouraged to use the nursing process to plan care for the individual. Students have evaluated the presentations favorably and have indicated that the presentations decrease their anxiety and fear and build their confidence. Practicing nurses could use this kind of simulation as a way to enhance their own communication skills. When faced with a difficult patient, nurses may use drama together in a controlled setting and practice how best to provide quality care to that patient using the nursing process.
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