Back to Basics: Part 3, Role-play


Role-plays are one of the most valuable training tools there is, especially in peer-to-peer learning environments.  

Role-plays easily transmit nuanced and complex information and are essential for teaching behavioral techniques.

I used role-play as the primary tool to model for UniteHere! members how to get respect in the hospital. Studies have shown that patients who STAND OUT to their doctors when hospitalized receive a higher quality of care.  Patients who play a more proactive role get their doctors to pay more attention to their treatment, and are at less risk for costly and fatal mistakes.  

But respect is a tricky thing to teach.  It’s nuanced and complex, and it’s grounded in behavior.  Perfect for a role-play!

I designed a short skit, to be played by UNITEHERE! members, modeling behaviors to help them stand out with hospital staff and receive a higher quality of care. The role-play is not only a great interactive learning technique, but it allows everyone in the training to witness what respect looks like, and what people just like them did to get it.  

The peer facilitator can sum up learning like this:

What did the couple do well to make sure the doctor and staff respected them? (let group answer, write down responses)

  • They asked the nurse when the doctor was coming so they could plan
  • They asked the nurse to coordinate the medicine
  • They made a plan of their questions and wrote them down in advance
  • They asked the doctor questions; they had their own agenda
  • They helped each other in the interaction with the doctor
  • They wrote down what the doctor said
  • They followed up when they didn’t understand something
  • They asked the doctor to be connected to an “inside” helper so they could get more support.

Using role-play as a tool in peer-to-peer learning is the best way to transmit complex information.  A facilitator could tell their peers, “These are the things we should do in the hospital to make sure we get good care,” but without the role-play, it’s hard to understand how to implement those techniques.  Role-play lets everyone in the room SEE it.  

Even better, role-play is a chance for participants to immediately practice the skills they are going to need if they are ever hospitalized.  How often in life do we get a dress-rehearsal for hard situations?  By role-playing these techniques, there is a higher chance that UNITEHERE! members will be able to remember and DO what they learned if they are ever hospitalized.