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RNs work together to create “Bedside the Musical” as way to teach others about profession’s history

Saturday September 21, 2013
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Mary Walsh, RN, BSN, and Peg McKeon, RN, BSN, both knew education could be entertaining.

Out of that knowledge came “Bedside the Musical” — a musical play created as a unique way for RNs to earn CEs.

“The concept of ‘Bedside’ was developed after years of attending nursing CE lectures and courses that — while informative — were dry and uninspiring,” said McKeon, who also has written a few CE articles. “I also felt that the art of nursing was not recognized or celebrated. There are common experiences that all nurses go through during the stages of their careers, and I wanted to try to capture that common ground and draw the audience into the experience.”

McKeon felt there was a way to make the presentations more entertaining and engaging, and she told Walsh that at a family function several years ago. McKeon, Walsh and Walsh’s husband, Jerry — McKeon’s cousin — set about turning that into reality. After much research and writing, they hired actors and put together their first live performance in 2011, which was held at The Media (Pa.) Theater to an audience of more than 100 people.

“To hear our work being professionally done and to watch the audience’s reaction, especially when they got the humorous bits, was — as they say — priceless,” Walsh said. “Overall, the response has been just amazingly positive, especially among educators.”

McKeon and Walsh drew from their experiences during the creation of the musical. Many of the situations in the play are based on their clinical experiences and the characters are composites of their progression from new graduates to seasoned nurses.

McKeon works at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa., in the risk management department. She previously worked at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa., as a bedside nurse in med/surg and the ICU. Walsh worked as a bedside nurse in med/surg and critical care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center before retiring in 2001.

“The writing process started with a few notations in a yellow notebook,” McKeon said. “The notes were simple – give a positive message to those in the profession; educate about our history; inspire nurses to be proud of the art of nursing and how it touches their practice.”

Along with that came hours of historical research.

“Rather than just give facts, we wanted to personalize the people and events so that the audience could relate to their circumstances and struggles,” McKeon said. “We wanted to tell their stories in a way that connected with the audience. There are so many nursing pioneers and their stories are inspirational.”

Since its first live performance, “Bedside the Musical” has been performed live numerous times. It is approved for 1.7 CE credit hours as a video, but also as a live performance and as a one-person lecture. These approvals involved three separate processes with varying numbers of submissions and revisions for each, Walsh said.

“Getting CE contact hour approval for Bedside was always the primary objective,” McKeon said. “To have the material and musical format recognized as relevant to a nurse’s professional education validates our work and it lends credibility to the presentation.”

Once the initial script was written, the hard part was getting approval for CE credit offering, McKeon said.

“To our knowledge, a musical comedy about the history of nursing had never been done, let alone been submitted for consideration of CE credit based on the content,” McKeon said. “While we could envision the concept, others really had nothing to measure it against. We fielded a lot of questions. ... Numerous submissions were required before we got it right.”

“Bedside the Musical” was approved for CE credit by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. The website for the musical — BedsideMusical.com — has more information on how to gain CE through watching the performance.

Walsh and McKeon said the response has been wonderful.

“It was exciting when it all comes together and you’re seeing it on stage and people are getting the humor and they’re interacting and they’re engaging,” McKeon said. “And it’s exciting creating something just from an idea and it really was trial and error all along the way ... But it’s been a lot of fun.”


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