Health Literacy Learning Activity

This learning activity works well with any level pre-licensure student, and is an excellent activity for a post clinical conference.  The students will need to complete the following reading before this learning activity:

Center on an Aging Society (1999)  Low health literacy skills increase annual health care expenditures by $73 billion.  Washington D.C.: Georgetown University.  Accessed on the web 10/6/08 at:

Center for Medicare Education.(2000).Considering health literacy. Issue Brief Vol. 1 No.6.

Institute for Healthcare Advancement.  (2008). Easy to use California advance health care directive. (pdf attached)  Downloaded from the web on 10/6/08 at:

Instructions for the Instructor:

This activity is to be done as a single post clinical conference experience ideally by the mid-term point in the rotation.  The students will divide into pairs and perform the role of nurse or patient in a learning activity designed to illustrate the experience of having limited language skills similar to those experienced in situations of low health literacy.  The role descriptions for the nurse and patient are attached as separate files.  Following the Learning Activity: In Another’s Shoes, discuss the questions listed below.

As part of this activity, share your own examples of forms, literature, etc. used in your organization that are written in an easy to read and easy to understand format.

An evaluation follows this exercise.  Students need to complete the evaluation and return it to you.  At the end of the rotation, please return the learning activities evaluations to the course coordinator.

Instructions for the Learning Activity:

  1. Divide students into pairs.
  2. Each student chooses one role (For example: Student A is the Nurse, Student B is the Patient)
  3. The student does not look at his/her partner’s instructions.
  4. Instruct the student to read the entire role sheet prior to starting the activity.
  5. Non-verbal communication can be used in this exercise.
  6. Students should role play for 2 – 3 minutes.