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Lithuania Project Report; Kaunas Medical University

Gail L Kenyon, MSW, PhD
Formerly, Visiting Instructor
North Carolina Child Welfare Education Collaborative
School of Social Work


Spring 2003 I was invited to make a presentation to social workers and other professionals at Kaunas Medical University, Kaunas, Lithuania. The topic was "The Use of Live Client Simulation in Teaching Practice Skills". Live client simulation refers to the use of non-professional actors, trained to portray real clients and trained to give constructive feedback to students regarding their interviewing. Simulated clients have been used in social work for approximately 20 years (Kenyon, 1994). In medical education the use of standardized patients in teaching and assessing medical students goes back even farther (Barrows, 1993). Other disciplines such as nursing and physical therapy use this student assessment technique as well.

In Lithuania at that time, I was fortunate to be able to give a 3 hour presentation and demonstration to approximately 40 social workers and health care professionals. In Lithuania this teaching method is not used in medical schools, nursing programs or social work programs, therefore it generated a great deal of interest. The presentation was very successful and I was invited back, but not funded, to return to develop this method with colleagues in all health professions.

While in Kaunas, I took the opportunity to visit a Child Protection Services office and Intergenerational House, a facility for elderly people that also provides temporary housing and programs for young mothers with children at risk. Both of these experiences have informed my teaching and my community engagement since my return.

The Russian Studies Grant of 2004 has allowed me to continue my involvement in Lithuania and build on the work I have done with Kaunas Medical University (KMU). I returned to Lithuania in May 2004 and continued to develop a client simulation program at Kaunas Medical University. I presented a second more advanced training for social work and other health care professionals which was attended by over 40 professionals and was very well received.

While in Lithuania I worked closely with Dr. Butkeviciene and other social workers in Kaunas to develop three culturally relevant case scenarios for use in live client simulation in social work and medical education there and here at ECU. The increase in Eastern European and Post Soviet country immigration makes knowledge and experience with this population an asset for social work, nursing, and medical students. As well, this is an excellent vehicle to use to increase students knowledge, understanding and appreciation of this region. To develop these case scenarios Dr. Butkeviciene and I visited several community social service agencies and talked at length with social workers in those agencies. We explored suitable cases for teaching and then wrote cases scenarios from theses cases. Each case scenario involves the compilation of aspects of typical social work cases in these various settings. They are then adapted to make them suitable for teaching. The final product was three well developed case scenarios, one involving children in foster care, one involving an adult male in a nursing home and the third is a more complex case involving child protection, drug treatment and housing issues. Dr. Butkeviciene and I were able to test the use of the third case scenario in the KMU workshop and were very pleased with the results.

Each case scenario is accompanied by teaching points outlining the cultural issues relevant to the case. These can be used by instructors to enhance the learning of students about eastern European culture and social policy.

The case scenarios have been given to Heidi Lane, Trainer at the Center for Clinical Skills Assessment and Education at Brody Medical Center where they will be available to faculty for adaptation to their teaching needs. Ms Lane is responsible for training simulators on case scenarios for the Medical School, Social Work and other disciplines.

Because of my change in position I regret I will not be able to continue work in this important area at ECU. However I would like to thank the Russian Studies Project for the opportunity to make this contribution to the University.