WIT: Film Analysis
Communication in simple is the act or transferring information from one place to another. Although it is simply explained it is actually a complex process involving three main types; verbal, non-verbal and written (Skillsyouneed, 2018). Communication can also be defined as effective and ineffective communication which will both be looked at in part 1 of this assignment. Effective communication helps to keep motivation levels up, critical in decision making and makes a healthier environment for staff, leaders and patients in health care (Kart, 2013). Ineffective communication in the work place can lead to poor performance, lack of teamwork, can create conflict and can cause mistakes from mild, with little to no consequences to extreme and can go as far as even death (McQuerrey, 2018).
The 2001 movie ‘Wit’ directed by Mike Nichols is based on a play written by Margaret Edson. The play follows the main character Vivian Bearing an english professor who has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, as she is treated for the condition through the hospital. Two other main characters are used throughout the movie; Dr Jason Posner who was a former student of Vivian and nurse Susie Monahan who looks after and cares for Vivian. As we watch the film it is clear that there is little effective communication and there is both effective and ineffective communication within this film. There are many examples from the film that could be analysed for this task but only two examples will be used demonstrating both effective and ineffective communication.
The first example of communication that will be looked at in the movie ‘Wit’, is in the Friday morning grand rounds where Dr Kelekian (Vivian’s main doctor) comes in to check on her condition and to see how the treatment is going. Dr Kelekian comes through the door with Dr Posner and three other possible medical interns or doctors. This scene is important as it shows bad/ineffective communication. One of the biggest noticeable factors is after they all come into the room they stand around Vivian and ask her “how are you feeling today?” this phrase is used throughout the film as more of a robotic tendency and effects safety and quality in the work place. This phrase is offend used in the healthcare system and can seem disempowering and disengaging to the patients or clients. In the film this greeting was used in every scene where Vivian was receiving a check-up. In some cases this was said at the beginning as an introduction but in several scenes it was said right at the end or as the doctor has left the room, this makes the patient feel disempowered and makes it seem like the doctor doesn’t actually care for the patient at all. Another problem at least in this film is that the patient was clearly not feeling good but still gives the expected response making the whole thing pointless. Another problem in this scene is that as soon as they said “how are you today” Dr Posner went over to Vivian’s bed side and lifted up her gown without asking her for permission. Dr Posner then proceeded to physically touch Vivian’s body showing where the cancer was and where it was shrinking without her consent. The other people in the room then did the same and all spoke to each other in front of her not acknowledging her and speaking medical jargon which she cannot understand, “Nephrotoxicity, kidney poisoning, myelosuppression. They are all medical terms I looked them up…. Still… I want to know what the doctors mean when they anatomise me” (Wit, 2001). According to one source it is estimated that just over half the adult patients on discharge could not tell their diagnoses or the name of their medication highlighting the ineffective communication between patient and health care professionals, this showing the lack of a good therapeutic relationship with todays health care system (IHC, 2011).
Another important scene that shows effective communication is the ice-pole (popsicle) scene, in this scene we finally get to see a decent therapeutic relationship between the head nurse Susie and Vivian. an effective therapeutic relationship will have three main qualities these are; empathy, genuineness and respect (Rodriguez, 2011). During this scene we see Vivian breakdown and Susie comforting her while keeping her professional manner, she displays some of the key concepts of a nurse and was described as using her compassioned/human side. Susie looks after Vivian by using her touch and speaking to her and showing an understanding, this can be scene when Vivian says, “I’m scared” and Susie response saying “honey, of course you are” (Wit, 2001). Different types of communication are used in this scene; verbal communication is used to comfort and re assure Vivian. Non-verbal communication is used in this scene as well, this can be seen after Susie gives Vivian the popsicle. The popsicle has two sticks which Vivian brakes it in half so Susie can have half, this action speaks so much louder than words and shows the patient nurse relationship. There are two models to help nurses and other people be more conscious/intentional with non-verbal communication, they are SOLAR (sit, open, lean forward, eye contact and relax) this model was designed in 1975 and has been updated to the new model SURETY (sit, uncrossed legs and arms, relax, eye contact, touch and your intuition) (Egan, 1975 & Stickley, 2011). If we look at this scene we can see that Susie is doing all of the above criteria and is showing effective communication.
This section of the task will look at what I have learnt from the film and how I can improve my communication skills. There are many lessons that can be taken from the film, one very important communication skill that can be taken from this film is patient centred care. The patient in this case is Vivian and the doctor is doctor Posner, he treats Vivian with little to no respect and sees her as not a person but as research/data. I didn’t really think about this topic too much and now that iv seen some of the negative effects from the patient’s point of view I can see exactly how some people are being treated. The negative effects from this can range from lack of trust and communication to completely shutting out the doctors and nurses. The patient should be able to feel at home and feel like they are being cared for with the best team of doctors and nurses. I believe that patient centred care is one of the key attributes to becoming a successful nurse. I personally feel like I don’t look after others as much as I should and am going to make a plan to change this and to fix this problem. My plan would be to start thinking about others before I take action and think what the other person (the patient in the health industry), would want or how I can change what I’m doing to make the other person feel more safe and comfortable both physically and mentally.
Another very important ability I gained from this is to be caring, I witnessed several times in the film were Vivian was treated more as a chore than as a person. I do not want to become a robot in a sense where I am just all about the task and everything and everyone is just something to pass the time till my shift ends. I also do not want to witness or be a part of somethings in the work place if they are not helping to a friendly environment. Another problem in the film is that the patient Vivian was being treated more as research even in one of the final scenes. Susie walked in on Dr Posner resuscitating Vivian she said “What are you doing?” and Dr Posner responded by saying in a strong and almost desperate voice “She’s research,” Susie then went on to say “she’s DNR (do not resuscitate) (Wit, 2001). This interaction is one of the worst scenes in the films from a communication point of view. This scene is a mess and resulted in a lot of miscommunication from Dr Posner to the team that came to try and save Vivian’s body, which in the process was disrespected and against her decision and only happened because of mis communication. I believe that miscommunication is still a big problem in the world, according to one source miscommunication in the health care system cost the government $1.7 billion and resulted in the loss of 2000 lives (Budryk, 2016). I believe that one way to minimise this risk is to get more training for nurses and doctors in patience centred care, to educate and put safety regulations in place to stop miscommunication from starting or escalating to the level it did in the film.
Budryk (2016). Healthcare miscommunication cost $1.7B--and nearly 2,000 lives | FierceHealthcare. [online] Fiercehealthcare.com. Available at: https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/healthcare-miscommunication-cost-1-7b-and-nearly-2-000-lives [Accessed 9 Apr. 2018].
Egan, G. (1975). The skilled helper: a systematic approach to effective helping. Pacific Grove CA: Brooks/Cole.
IHC (2011). Impact of Communication in Healthcare | Institute for Healthcare Communication. [online] Healthcarecomm.org. Available at: http://healthcarecomm.org/about-us/impact-of-communication-in-healthcare/ [Accessed 6 Apr. 2018].
Kart (2013). Importance of effective Communication in an Organization. [online] EduKart Blog. Available at: http://www.edukart.com/blog/importance-of-effective-communication-in-an-organization/ [Accessed 9 Apr. 2018].
McQuerrey (2018). How Does a Lack of Communication Cause Conflict in the Workplace?. [online] Smallbusiness.chron.com. Available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/lack-communication-cause-conflict-workplace-10470.html [Accessed 7 Apr. 2018].
Rodriguez (2011). Essentials of The Therapeutic Relationship - Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. [online] Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Available at: https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/essentials-of-the-therapeutic-relationship/ [Accessed 7 Apr. 2018].
Skillsyouneed.com. (2018). What is Communication? Verbal, Non-Verbal & Written | SkillsYouNeed. [online] Available at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/what-is-communication.html [Accessed 9 Apr. 2018].
Stickley, T. (2011). From SOLER to SURETY for effective non-verbal communication. Nurse Education in Practice, 11(6), 395-398.
Wit 2001, Motion Picture, HBO Films: New York.