Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics


This article was written on 19 Dec 2015, and is filled under Volume 10 2015, Volume 10 No 3 & 4.

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Reflections on the innovative use of storytelling to develop students’ leadership skills Pt 3: Student Perspective

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PART 3: Student Perspective

By Elizabeth Joly, MN, RN

1) From your perspective as a student 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 nursing leaders’ stories?

In an online course focused on organizational and systems leadership in the Master of Nursing Advanced Practice Leadership program at the University of Victoria (UVic), we had the unique opportunity to connect with a nurse leader at Island Health to explore and analyze issues related to leadership in pain care through storytelling.

Video of Interview with Elizabeth Joly, led by Chelsey Nelson & Tina Choi

As a nurse who has worked across pediatric and adult medical surgical specialties and with clients with complex care needs and developmental disabilities in the community, I have frequently encountered situations of inadequate pain management.

– Although we easily recognize these individual cases and advocate for our patients, in the past I did not give enough consideration to the broader barriers and facilitators of quality pain care, especially related to education.

– So often, the stories I hear of pain care are ones where things go wrong, or in other words, stories that critique practice and provide few solutions.

– Integrating the insights from a story of pain care with a positive outcome with knowledge acquired from the literature, we were able to acquire new knowledge and skills about leadership in pain assessment and management that I believe left us better prepared to provide leadership in pain care in our own practice settings.

– We were inspired by the stories we heard in how nurse leaders can advocate not only for patients experiencing pain but also for the nurses with whom they work.

– We could see how a nurse’s actions reflected her ability to identify when the bedside nurses required better tools to care for these patients as well as her compassion and commitment to patient advocacy.

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

– So often in the confines of the online classroom, learning arises from discussion of the literature and our own experiences.

– Throughout my previous undergraduate and graduate education experiences, instructors have frequently constructed cases and stories as a part of the learning process to elicit specific learning outcomes, which I have learned can be a powerful tool for learning but at the same time I still felt distanced from the situations I was studying

– the power of stories takes learning further—to be able to hear the passion in the leader’s voice as she shared a real-life positive experience providing leadership for pain care enabled me to relate to enacting leadership and quality improvement competencies in a way I had not considered before

– The process was not one-way either, as our analysis and summary was shared with nurse leaders at Island Health, leading to a new understanding of the importance of collaboration in contributing to the knowledge base for nurse leaders to improve pain care.

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

Looking back on the experience from the student perspective, time was probably our biggest enemy. As my partner and I lived three time zones apart and had significantly different work schedules, connecting with the nurse leader for the storytelling process was challenging. Ensuring adequate time and resources to initiate contact for the students is one important piece of many in this process.

In summary, engaging with this course assignment

– reinforced the importance of compassion and advocacy for pain care in vulnerable populations
– opened my eyes to different frontline and organizational/system level strategies for addressing pain care
– demonstrated the power of stories to enhance learning, an important insight I will take with me into my own teaching.

Elizabeth Joly

Elizabeth is an Adjunct Faculty in pediatric chronic care at Linfield College and a Staff Nurse at Nursingale for the Medically Fragile, both in Portland, Oregon, USA. She received her Master of Nursing in Advanced Practice Leadership from the University of Victoria in 2015 and intends to begin doctoral studies in 2016. Her research interests include developmental and care transitions, nursing practice and leadership in the home and community, and living with life-sustaining technology.

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