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Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2017 Jun;26(3):293-300. doi: 10.1111/inm.12235. Epub 2016 Jun 9.

Nursing in an imperfect world: Storytelling as preparation for mental health nursing practice.

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School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
School of Graduate Medicine, Yamaguchi University, Ube, Japan.


Storytelling is a valuable adjunctive method of preparing undergraduate mental health nursing students for practice. To explore the possibilities of this method of teaching, 100 stories were collected from experienced nurses working in mental health and analysed using a case study methodology. The aim was to explore the purpose of clinical anecdotes told by experienced nurses working in mental health settings to undergraduates and new recruits, with an ancillary purpose of looking at the implications of these anecdotes for the exploration of contemporary mental health practice and education. A framework for student discussion of stories is provided. The insights gained illuminate not only the history of mental health nursing and the daily activities of nurses working in mental health, but also some of the deep-level skills developed and used by these nurses as they work in the complexity and ambiguity of an imperfect world where the job requires managing the unexpected every shift, and where there might not always be a textbook-perfect solution to clinical situations.


mental health nursing; storytelling; student

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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