Using role play to develop cultural competence

J Nurs Educ. 2003 Jun;42(6):273-6. doi: 10.3928/0148-4834-20030601-10.


Role play is a useful teaching strategy for nursing education. This strategy can simulate patient behaviors, as well as demonstrate nursing interventions that students must learn to be clinically competent. Role play is a dramatic technique that encourages participation to improvise behaviors that may be encountered in nurse-patient situations. Using this technique, participants may test behaviors and decisions in an experimental atmosphere without risk of negative effects in a relationship. Role play is useful in developing cultural competence because participants may experience diverse roles. Cultural competence is the ability to care for patients in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner. In role play, students may participate as culturally diverse patients or as nurses encountering patients from different cultures. Various teaching strategies facilitate successful use of role play in the classroom, including defining a time frame, selected roles, specific objectives, references, and grading criteria. To optimize learning, the importance of exploration and analysis must be emphasized. Many benefits and potential problems accompany use of role play.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Education, Nursing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Prejudice
  • Role Playing*
  • Students, Nursing / psychology
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Transcultural Nursing / education*