Nursing, graphic design students pair up for practical experience

Nursing and graphic design students swap skills in collaborative project.

October 11, 2010

Nursing and graphic design students don’t often share the same classrooms. But when the nursing department wanted to give its students practice educating, an interdisciplinary project proved to be an effective approach.

“We had a list of some procedural things that you might need to teach a family member or patient at home,” said Joe Degitz, assistant professor of nursing. “We then gave the list to the graphic design students who picked what they thought was interesting.”

One of the greatest benefits for the nursing students was also the most difficult part of their assignment – educating people outside the health field about medical issues and procedures.

The design students were introduced to various topics, ranging from wound care to central line dressing changes to injections, and they watched as the nursing students explained the process and took notes along the way.

“It’s great for both disciplines,” said Degitz. “It helps nursing students hone skills in education and gives graphic design students experience in creating media for topics they aren’t used to dealing with.”

The graphic design students have to take what they learned and create an explanatory poster from it, using only graphics and pictures, no words. Gary Will, associate professor of graphic design, said the assignment requires his students to achieve a graphic designer’s two most important objectives: thoroughly researching a problem and completely understanding the target audience.

The collaborative effort also includes a quality control mechanism.

“The final benefit is at the deadline when we submit all the completed student information design projects to the nursing school. Nursing students and faculty complete written feedback, which is ultimately fed back to the graphic design students as part of their overall feedback and grade,” said Will.

The analysis from the nursing students and faculty will be based on a matrix designed by Dr. Peggy Flannigan, an associate professor in the Department of Nursing. Flannigan initiated this successful educational exchange several years ago.

Once completed, the projects will be on display in Burgess Hall.

Meanwhile, the nursing and physical therapy programs have also partnered up to better educate beginning nursing students.

The relationship between the two programs involves physical therapy students teaching sophomore nursing students how to safely move patients.

“These collaborations provide all the students involved with beneficial teaching experience, and they learn new skills along the way,” said Degitz.