Healthcare Stories from the Heart

Submitted by Amanda Page, MFA, Assistant Professor

Come listen to healthcare stories from Mount Carmel College of Nursing staff and faculty on Thursday, March 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the College Lounge. Students will have an opportunity to tell their own healthcare stories, too!

How did an MCCN storytelling night come about? It all started with a little lunchtime banter.

“I was new, and I was having lunch with a few colleagues. They started telling stories from their time as floor nurses,” says Amanda Page, Assistant Professor at MCCN. “I was laughing so hard. I knew there was a bigger audience just waiting to hear these stories.”

Page was organizing a literary event at Wild Goose Creative, a local arts organization, and soon after hearing the lunchtime stories, casually suggested to the Executive Director, “We should host a nurse storytelling night.” The Executive Director agreed wholeheartedly.

In March, 2017, Page hosted “Nerve Endings: A Night of Nursing Stories,” at Wild Goose Creative. “We already do open mic nights and a monthly storytelling event in the space,” Page says. “It seemed like a natural fit.”

“We kicked things off with a story from Assistant Professor, Jody Gill-Rocha, since she was the inspiration, really,” Page says. Gill-Rocha had told a story that fateful day in the lunchroom, and Page roped her in to sharing the story on stage. In the audience at the event were Mount Carmel College of Nursing faculty, staff, and a few folks from the local storytelling community, who suggested having an evening devoted to patient stories as well.

“I realized that there is an audience for stories from many aspects of healthcare,” Page says.

Since the storytelling night at Wild Goose Creative, Page has researched the impact of storytelling in healthcare. Page also has composition students write narrative essays about the moment they knew they wanted to become nurses. “There are so many ways to use story in our industry,” Page says. “It’s so important to tell these stories, and to hear them.”

Dale Hilty, Assistant Professor, has faculty come participate in a panel discussion in his Cultural Competence course. “Students will ask questions, and nursing faculty answer with stories,” Hilty says. “It’s very powerful, and an excellent way for the students to learn.”

“Everyone has a healthcare story, whether it’s a personal experience or they witnessed a family member go through an illness,” Page says. “The more we share them, the more empathetic we become, the more connected we feel, and the more prepared we are to deal with curveballs that health and healthcare might throw at us.” That's why Page relocated the storytelling night to MCCN. "It's more accessible for students and faculty," Page says. "And it seems important to have a storytelling night in the place where students learn through stories, and from them."

Gill-Rocha, the original inspiration for the storytelling night, understands the importance of storytelling in her own work and practice. “The nurses who want to tell their stories,” says Gill-Rocha, “even when funny or silly, shows that they really, truly, love their jobs, because telling the story makes you look back, remember, and see how far you’ve come. Telling a story makes you reflect and see how your thinking has changed from everything you’ve learned.”

Come experience the stories of nursing faculty, college staff, and any students who have a story they’d like to share. Stories will be no longer than eight minutes each. If you have questions about storytelling in healthcare or want to rehearse your story before going on stage, contact Professor Page at apage@mccn.edu.

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