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Bedside Manners: Play and Workbook

Bedside Manners: Play and Workbook

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by Suzanne Gordon, Lisa Hayes, Scott Reeves, Lucian L. Leape (Foreword by)

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In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the need for interprofessional cooperation in healthcare. Countless studies have shown that genuine teamwork and team intelligence are critical to patient safety. Poor communication among health care personnel is a major factor in hospital errors, even more so than the level of staff competence and experience.


In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the need for interprofessional cooperation in healthcare. Countless studies have shown that genuine teamwork and team intelligence are critical to patient safety. Poor communication among health care personnel is a major factor in hospital errors, even more so than the level of staff competence and experience. This is why many schools for health professionals and major health care employers now promote interprofessional education and cooperation.

Bedside Manners is a play about workplace relations among physicians, nurses, others who work in health care, and patients—and how their interaction affects the quality of patient care, for better or worse. The accompanying workbook helps educators, managers, patient safety advocates, administrators, and union representatives to analyze and discuss the issues raised in the play. When presented in hospitals, universities, and health care conferences all over the United States, Bedside Manners invariably sparks a vibrant conversation about patient safety problems and how to solve them, job satisfaction and stress, and the importance of information sharing and mutual respect. As text or script, this play is a unique teaching tool for medical and nursing schools, and other health professional schools and continuing education programs involving health care clinicians and staff of all kinds.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"While many health care professionals lament the poor communication between doctors and nurses who jointly care for patients, the path to improve this remains unclear. In Bedside Manners, journalist, author, and visiting professor at the University School of Nursing Suzanne Gordon came up with a novel idea: use theater to tackle the intricacies of doctor-nurse relationships—where they succeed, where they fail, and where there are better solutions."—Jessica Bylander, Senior Editor, Health Affairs (May 2014)

"Play acting is such a great way to engage otherwise reticent people in the process of recognizing, discussing, and effecting behavior change. It is a lot easier to do this if you are pretending to be someone else. The beauty of this approach is that the necessary messaging is actually planted in the heart and mind of the actors in a powerful and effective way, all while they think that they are someone else. Brilliant!"—Terry R. Rogers, MD, CEO, The Foundation for Health Care Quality

"Bedside Manners was enacted in our Leadership Development for Health course. Students and faculty eagerly volunteered to be actors and spent the day rehearsing. When the play was presented for the remaining students, it was nothing less than a hit! Interprofessional teamwork is a concept that is taught throughout our program, but providing an avenue for experiential learning and dedicating time for discussion regarding the importance of communication among all team members cemented these lessons."—Lisa Fidyk, MSN, MS, RN, Associate Program Director, Nursing Healthcare Administration and Health Leadership Graduate Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

"When the Colorado Hospital Association presented Bedside Manners at its annual CEO Forum, the play did just what it claimed it would do—advance the conversations about teamwork and communication in our hospitals by showing real-life examples of what takes place in virtually any hospital. Patient safety depends on the input and actions of staff at every level. Yet, we know all too well that concern about status and hierarchy is often an impediment to people listening to one another for the benefit of those we serve—our patients. Using theater to explore these critical issues is an exciting way to promote interprofessional teamwork and communication. Every caregiver and hospital leader needs to see Bedside Manners. It is a performance no one will ever forget!"—Steven Summer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Hospital Association

"Bedside Manners is a play for our times that challenges as it provokes. More fact than fiction, each of the twenty-one scenes is more compelling for being grounded in real-life encounters. Does drama dig deeper than role-play? Beyond question, yes, particularly when the parts are played by doctors and nurses who have opportunities to react and reflect afterward."—Hugh Barr, President, CAIPE, The UK Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education

"Bedside Manners is a great tool for professional education and patient advocacy. Nurses and their organizations should find ways to use Bedside Manners to enhance the critical role of RNs on the health care team."—Julie Pinkham, RN, Executive Director, Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United

"This play 'stole the show' at the National Patient Safety Foundation 15th Annual Patient Safety Congress. Hundreds of us were moved to tears by the everyday reality that the play’s vignettes so poignantly shed light on. The events depicted were so amazing and engaging you could not make them up—the playwright and nursing advocate journalist Suzanne Gordon based them on actual published incidents and official error investigations. As a physician it was very humbling to have a look into this mirror and reflect on how we treat our patients and each other."—Gordon Schiff, MD, Associate Director, Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

"Acting in Bedside Manners was transformative. When health care professionals and patients perform this play together, both they and their audience directly experience the impact that good—or poor—communication and teamwork have on patient safety. As a patient advocate I hope the health care community will embrace this amazing teaching tool."—Patty J. Skolnik, Founder and Executive Director, Citizens for Patient Safety

Product Details

Cornell University Press
Publication date:
Culture and Politics of Health Care Work Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Suzanne Gordon is coeditor of the Cornell University Press series, The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work, and was program leader of the Robert Wood Johnson-funded Nurse Manager in Action Program.

Lisa Hayes is an actor, playwright, director, and educator. She has written the plays From the Mountains of Mourne to the Mines of Montana, The Sad Sacks are Back, and The Trailer Park Diaries.

Scott Reeves is Director of the Center for Innovation in Interprofessional Healthcare Education at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the editor-in-chief of Journal of Interprofessional Care.

Lucian L. Leape, MD, is an Adjunct Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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