Taking Cues: The Power of Nonverbal Communication
Published on April 17, 2013 by Peter Tomala
Broadview University-West Jordan medical assistant students had the opportunity to get outside of their comfort zone during arts and craft time at West Jordan Care Center. Students extended their classroom learning as they interacted with individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. They got to know particular residents on a more personal level and learned how to interact with amazing people who are not always able to verbally communicate their wants and needs.
The project worked in conjunction with the Patient Care Sciences class that is part of the medical assistant career program. Students were learning about verbal and nonverbal communication in class, and the visit to the care center illustrated a different aspect of nonverbal communication, as most of the residents couldn’t speak with words. Students interacted with the residents through their facial expressions and body language. The experience could one day help the students in their medical assistant careers.
Students helped with gathering art supplies, showing animals to the residents, helping residents with art projects, and just being a friendly face to people who are many times misunderstood.
The goal was for the students to feel more comfortable interacting with people who have different needs. This population in particular offered students valuable experience and education for the medical assisting field because people often get uncomfortable around those who have disabilities but need social interaction.
Although students were only there for a few hours over three days, they formed lasting relationships with the residents. One student said that after interacting with a certain resident each visit, she was sad to leave because she had become attached. She said she will miss visiting the care center and being with the residents, but the memories will be with her for a long time.
As medical assistants, our students learned that they may have patients with disabilities similar to the West Jordan Care Center residents. The students got to feel more comfortable around this group, had the opportunity to see what special people they are, and will be more prepared for their careers because of it.
Contributed by Medical Assistant Program Chair Brooke Pearson, Broadview University-West Jordan