Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Reflections on the innovative use of storytelling to develop students’ leadership skills Pt 1: Preamble

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

PART 1: Preamble

By Dr. Wendy Young,

Research Facilitator/Knowledge Translation Coordinator,
Research Capacity Building Initiative, Island Health, Victoria, B.C.


Two 4th year undergraduate students in the University of Victoria’s (UVic) BSN program, Tina Choi and Chelsey Nelson, are thrilled that the Editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics, June Kaminiski, has agreed to disseminate reflections on the innovative use of storytelling to develop students’ leadership skills and translate knowledge into action. These reflections were first recorded by Tina and Chelsey as part of their 4th Year Practicum Nursing within Communities & Health Systems for BSN Students. The reflections were then shown at Island Health and the University of Victoria (UVic) School of Nursing’s final Health Talk of 2015 on November 16th. The Health Talks were launched by the Research and Scholarship (R&S) Committee in collaboration with Island Health’s Research Capacity Building Department. The general outline of the talks is as follows:

  • 20-25 minute presentation
  • 5 minutes to pose provocative, discussion generating questions (3 max.)
  • 30 min. facilitated discussion that engages the audience and summarizes the propose/ outcomes/ process of the research project.

AuthorsThe goal is to have more of a discussion with the audience/ attendees, and less of a formal “presentation.”   These Health Talks are helping Island Health and UVic strengthen evidence-based practice.

The reflections being disseminated in this issue of the CJNI are by the following individuals:

  • Tina Choi, UVic, Nursing Student
  • Chelsey Nelson, UVic, Nursing Student
  • Elizabeth Joly, UVic, Nursing Student
  • Jennifer Matheson Parkhill Island Health, Nurse Leader
  • Dawn Nedzelski, Island Health, Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Professional Practice
  • Dr. Lynne Young UVic, School of Nursing Professor

Each person has reflected, during a semi-structured recorded interview conducted by Tina and Chelsey, on her experiences with a graduate course assignment developed by Lynne and supported by Dawn.

Graduate course assignment

Lynne is a leading pain researcher and has previous experience increasing student nurses’ leadership skills through story-telling. Hearing or reading stories of leadership is known to be an effective strategy for teaching leadership (Rose et al., 2016). As readers of CJNI know, nurses play a key role in ensuring quality pain care at all levels of care. Dawn was supportive of Lynne’s students connecting with an Island Health Nurse Leader to hear their stories about pain care and Dawn facilitated those connections. Readers of CJNI will hear many positive and powerful comments about this assignment from Lynne, Dawn and one of the Island Health Nurse Leaders, Jennifer Matheson Parkhill.

Students then worked in pairs, engaging a nurse leader from a specific setting in conversation. During the storytelling sessions, students used these prompts:

“Can you tell me about a time where as a nurse leader you addressed a pain care or pain management challenge to improve the quality of care in your workplace?”

“ What did you do?

What was that like for you as a nurse leader?

What key aspects of being a nurse leader did you draw on when in this situation?

What was the impact of your leadership in this situation?”

The students reflected on the story guided by these questions:

What is the key message of the story?

What struck you about this person as a leader?

What core leadership or quality improvement competencies were apparent in this story?

Though reflection on the leader’s story, students were asked to identify strategies nurse leaders use to improve the pain care.

The students summarized their findings and augmented them with information from the literature and prepared a four page executive summary that was then shared with the leaders.  Readers will hear exceptionally positive comments about the assignment from Elizabeth Joly, one of the UVic graduate students.

Nursing within Communities & Health Systems for BSN Students

Tina and Chelsey started their course Nursing within Communities & Health Systems for BSN Students in the fall of 2015 in the Research Department at Island Health. The expectations of the BSN students are clearly articulated. This course gives students an opportunity “to develop competency in the areas of leadership, facilitation, transformative teaching and learning, knowledge translation, and evaluation” (University of Victoria, 2105, p. 11).

Following discussions with their field placement officer Mandeep Manhas (Island health’s Clinical Research Manager) and Diane MacLeod (BScN, RN, Practica Coordinator, University of Victoria School of Nursing), Tina and Chelsey chose to develop their leadership skills, by contributing to the final Health Talks during Island Health’s Knowledge to Action month. “Every November, the Research and Capacity Building Department hosts a knowledge translation month of presentations, workshops, and celebration. K2A Month brings together leaders and researchers, knowledge-users and patients to learn about the importance of translating evidence into practice to improve care and outcomes.” ( To say that they were thrilled to be interviewing Island Health’s Chief Nursing Officer is an understatement.

Interview/Editing Process

To conduct the interviews, Chelsey and Tina first opened an account with Webex to gain access to the online video conferencing software. They then contacted the interviewees and scheduled appointments. All interviewees were asked to consent to the recording of the interview and its showing at the Health Talks.

The following questions guided the semi-structured interviews:

1) From your perspective please tell me about the lessons that you learned about the teaching of pain care to nursing students enrolled in a graduate leadership course using nurse leaders’ stories?

2) From your perspective please tell me about the insights that you gained about how students acquire nursing leadership skills.

3) What advice do you have for others about initiating or enriching university/health authority collaborations, based on your lessons learned?

Once the interviews were complete, Chelsey and Tina converted the Webex files into mp4 files and completed the editing process using iMovie, an Apple video-editing software.

The Health Talks

Attendees of the November 16th collaborative Health Talks were clearly excited that Nursing Students from UVic are learning about pain care from Island Health’s Nurse Leaders in an innovative way. Attendees first heard the recorded reflections on the course assignment and then engaged in a lively discussion about current pain care in response to a provocative question posed by the moderators, Chelsey and Tina. They asked attendees about the factors that may account for patients in acute care hospitals experiencing moderate to severe pain. The complexity of pain care and its interdisciplinary nature contribute to the challenges of introducing effective quality improvement initiatives. With time running out and clearly an interest in continuing the discussion on this important topic, Chelsey and Tina encouraged attendees to register for Island Health’s K2A Pain Care Conference.


We commend June Kaminiski, the editor-in-chief of the CJNI for releasing these student-created Knowledge Translation Videos, created with no budget, using Webex and Macbook editing software. Their distribution is helping us to further strengthen our academic/community partnership. CJNI is helping us to engage yet more providers and strengthen evidence based practice. We are looking forward to readers’ feedback.


Rose, R., Chakraborty, S., Mason-Lai,P., Brocke, W., Page, S.A., & Cawthorpe, D. (2016). The storied mind: A meta-narrative review exploring the capacity of stories to foster humanism in health care. Journal of Hospital Administration, 5, 52-61.

University of Victoria. (2015). Nursing 456: Nursing Within Communities and Health Systems. Retrieved from


Dr. Wendy Young is a Research Facilitator/Knowledge Translation Coordinator with the Research Capacity Building Initiative at Island Health, Victoria, B.C. Wendy completed her PhD in Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, and her Master’s in Clinical Psychology at Queen’s University. In 2013, Wendy moved from Memorial University, St. John’s Newfoundland, where she held a Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging. She had a joint appointment with the School of Nursing and the Division of Community Health and Humanities. She has conducted collaborative health services research and health services evaluations for the past 20 years.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4



Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.