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Catching the Narrative Wave in Research and Practice


The current ANS featured article is titled “Claiming the Narrative Wave With Story Theory” authored by Patricia Liehr, PhD, RN and Mary Jane Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN. The article is available for download at no cost while it is featured. In this article, the authors clarify the nature, the importance, and the benefits of narrative in both research and practice.  Download the article now, and share your comments for discussion here!  This is a message provided by Dr. Liehr for ANS blog readers:

Mary Jane Smith (right) and Patricia Liehr (left_

Near the end of our STORY-WAVE paper, we say: “In order to attend to unique health challenges for those in our care, nurses must embrace the idea that listening to another’s story is as essential as any other vital sign.” Hardly any nursing action occurs without some understanding of the context that has supported an individual’s presenting health challenge. In fact, another’s story can tie together other pieces of clinical data in a way that makes sense; that enables human-centered precision care. Story is a vital sign; story theory proposes a way for nurses to think about, collect and analyze practice and research stories.

Just recently, while talking with a nurse who has spent the last 30 years working in the emergency room, the conversation turned to what energizes her and keeps her passion for nursing alive. In a move to South Florida about a decade ago, she was introduced to the population of Jewish patients who bear the history of the Holocaust, branded onto their wrists. She has invited these older adults to talk about the marking, thereby offering an opportunity to “make visible” what can easily be overlooked in an emergency room visit. “…sometimes they pause and I can see that they are considering what I have asked but almost all of them speak to me about the Holocaust. I LOVE caring for these older adults.”  We believe that stories like these create a context for caring; in this case, infusing advanced ER knowledge and sophisticated skills with recognition of person that makes a difference in well-being.

In 2020, the Year of the Nurse and Midwife and the 200-year anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, it is definitely time to claim the narrative wave. Why????….because story is central to our practice and our research. In the last line of our STORY-WAVE paper we say: “Story theory can help nurses raise recognition of stories from practice and research as valuable guiding evidence, thereby claiming the narrative wave as an integral facet of disciplinary knowledge development.”….that’s why.

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