Wye Mills, Maryland, May 12, 2017 -- When first-year nursing students at Chesapeake College were introduced to Amelia Shore this spring, they thought she was an aging senior from Denton with a variety of chronic health issues. Instead, Amelia was their instructor wearing a life-like silicone mask while assuming the identity of a fictional patient.
Amelia -- in real life -- is 32 year-old Chesapeake Assistant Professor Holly Hayman, one of only seven nursing instructors in the United States trained in Mask-Ed.
The unique education model, which originated in Australia, allows Hayman to wear the custom mask and teach her students as the patient. Chesapeake’s spring semester was her first as a mask educator.
“Amelia helps our students develop communications skills and bed-side manners as they interact with a realistic patient,” Hayman said. “Mask-Ed breaks down the barriers of talking with someone you don’t know.”
Hayman transforms into Amelia by donning a specially fabricated mask made by theatrical designers that covers the ears and extends down her chest and back. She then modifies her voice and adopts the character of her alter ego.
Extensive time was spent on developing a personal story and complete medical history for Amelia that is relevant to the students’ learning experience.
Amelia is a widowed, 74-year-old with high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and mild depression, according to Hayman. A 1963 graduate of the McQueen Gibbs Willis Nursing Program at Easton’s Memorial Hospital, she worked as a nurse for 42 years and raised two grandchildren following the tragic death of her daughter. Now alone, she helps care for her brother’s wife who lives next door and has dementia.
“The last few years for Amelia have been very sad with several life changing events,” said Hayman. As a result, her medical issues have escalated. It’s common scenario we see among senior patients we treat in the mid-Shore community.”
Mask-Ed was developed by Kerry Reid-Searl, a professor in the undergraduate nursing program at CQUniversity in Australia.
Hayman, a four-year instructor at Chesapeake and Greensboro resident, was introduced to the teaching technique at a national nursing education conference last year. After advocating for the program at Chesapeake College, she attended an intensive three-day workshop in Colorado.
“Thanks to Holly’s efforts, Mask-Ed is a wonderful addition to our state-of-the-art Simulation Nursing Skills Classroom and Lab,” said Crystel Farina, the college’s Director of Simulation for Health Professions. “Our patient simulators allow nursing students to practice procedures like inserting nasogastric tubes and Foley catheters and even delivering babies. But now, we are more equipped to help our students develop equally important interpersonal skills as they learn the importance of delivering compassionate care.”
This summer, Hayman plans to demonstrate her Mask-Ed skills to other nurse educators at two conferences held at Chesapeake College. For the fall semester, she will introduce changes in Amelia’s life and medical history. In future years, Hayman will continue to evolve her character for new nursing students at Chesapeake.
“Amelia even has her own Instagram account,” Hayman says, “and we’ll be asking our students and nursing alumni to follow her so they can learn about what’s happening in her day to day life.”