AACN News—September 1998—Art an Outlet for Critical Care Nurse

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Vol. 15, No. 9, SEPTEMBER 1998


Donna Sindicich (photo at right) oversees a cast (above) of characters in an ICU during rehearsal for a 1-act she wrote and directed.

Donna Sindicich, RN, CCRN, CEN, HHP, believes nurses need an outlet to express their feelings about experiences, and their frustrations.
For her, art is not only therapeutic but a means to address myriad social issues in a way people can understand.

As an ICU/CCU staff nurse at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, Calif., Sindicich has shared her creative talents with patients and colleagues. For example, at Halloween she carved various shapes of body organs on a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern. She is also a painter and a sculptor who has employed art to promote healthcare issues.

Describing herself as a “Renaissance woman,” Sindicich said she pulls the bulk of her material from real-life experiences including, but not limited to, her practice. Earlier this year, she wrote and directed a 1-act play titled “Co Boo,” which was set in an ICU. The play was presented in May at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif.

“Co Boo” uses a split stage in which nurses can interact with a mix of comic characters and situations to address the conflict they feel.

“It’s a comedy, but there’s a lot of pathos in it,” Sindicich explained.

The title of the play, she said, playfully represents the way a nurse with a mouth full of crackers would sound calling a “Code Blue.”

She said she is fascinated by bioethics, which she tries to deal with through a variety of media.

One of her sculptures focused on rape. As part of the focus, “rape forms” were cut up and utilized as “sound bites” on the piece.

“There is so much that needs to be said, but how many ways can you say it,” she commented. “I use the ways that work for me.”

An asthmatic herself, Sindicich said she often thinks about end-stage pulmonary disease. To her, the thorax represents a sort of cage, inspiring her to form a sculpture in the shape of a cradle.