Guest Blogger: What a Difference a Year Makes

My name is Bob Boardman and I’m an RN CDE at a rural hospital in Washington State. We’ve been using Conversation Map® education tools for over a year and I’m a big fan. The folks at Healthy Interactions wanted to know how we’d come to adopt the Maps. Here’s our story.

We’re a small program: Two nurse educators, two RDs, 125 bed hospital. Over the years we’ve taught classes in all the usual formats. We lectured, demonstrated, used videos, DVDs, overhead projectors, and finally power point. We talked, they listened…..mostly.

Our department head was familiar with Conversation Map education tools and encouraged us to attend a training. We did and came home with our Maps and more questions than answers.

“Would anyone talk?” “It’s so scripted, whoever heard of teaching diabetes with a game?” “We have so much important information that the patients need to know…how will they ever learn it?” “Why do we spend so much time asking and so little time teaching?”

We did a webinar, asked skeptical questions, ran a practice session and finally, 6 months later, took the plunge.

What a difference a year makes. The bottom line is that we’d never go back. It’s been a humbling and exhilarating transformation.

Humbling because….

It turns out we’re really not the experts on this disease. The patients are. They live it every day and when you ask the right questions, it’s amazing how much they know.
Patients seem to learn more from each other than they do from us. I can tell a patient they need insulin. But it’s a whole different game when someone around the table says, “I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there myself but I tried insulin and it changed my life.”
And exhilarating because…

The Maps make us better educators. If you’ve ever met the middle distance stare as you deliver your “medications and diabetes” power point for the 85th time….you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Patents are engaged by the maps; excited, motivated, encouraged. Translating that enthusiasm into real behavior change challenges our skills every time we start a session.

The Maps do push us out of our “expert’ role. But they push us in the right direction: away from the patient as an empty vessel and toward a better sense of what they’re really going through and what their real motivations are.

At some point when our team was adopting the Maps, we added a question to our post-class evaluation, one that would help decide if we continued to use the maps. It was: “How would you rate the Conversation Map format compared to a more traditional lecture class?”

After a year and a couple of hundred participants at 2 different sites, we’ve had one person who preferred lectures.

So I’m curious. If you’ve adopted the Maps, what was your biggest challenge? And if you’re not using them yet, what’s your biggest worry? Let’s keep the conversation going. Thanks.



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