P157 Undergraduate Nutrition Students Develop Nutrition Counseling Skills Through a Healthcare Theatre Program


      To evaluate the effectiveness of a Healthcare Theatre Program in developing counseling skills in nutrition students

      Use of Theory or Research

      Simulations can provide undergraduate nutrition students with experiences that develop their counseling skills, preparing them for their internships and careers. The Transformative Learning Theory maintains problem solving and self-reflection help students transform into clinicians.

      Target Audience

      A total of 404 nutrition students who participated in the Healthcare Theatre Program from 2013-2019.

      Course/Curriculum Description

      A Healthcare Theatre Program, as part of a nutrition counseling class, offers a unique simulation experience for students to develop their counseling skills. In a mock hospital room with a 2-way mirror, a theatre student acts out a patient scenario and nutrition students conduct a nutrition assessment. After the simulation, the theatre student and nutrition instructor provide feedback regarding counseling skills. A week after the simulation, students complete a nutrition care plan and reflect on the experience.

      Evaluation Methods

      An IRB-approved survey was sent by email to individuals who participated in Healthcare Theatre. Before distribution, the survey was pilot tested for face validity and content. The final version of the survey included 19 questions which asked respondents to evaluate their confidence in counseling skills, give feedback for improving the program as well as provide demographic information.


      Of the 121 respondents, 110 (91%) were female, 102 (84%) were white/Caucasian and 92 (76%) were between 21-26 years of age. After participation, 99 (82%) reported feeling more confident in rapport building skills and 112 (93%) stated receiving immediate feedback was helpful or very helpful. Respondents stated the experience improved their nutrition interviewing skills and ability to ask open-ended questions. To improve the program, students requested more opportunities to participate in Healthcare Theatre.


      The Healthcare Theatre Program is an effective method for developing counseling skills in nutrition students.
      Funding: None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data