Narrative learning is a pedagogy that underpins the development of compassion, empathy and hope as qualities of nurses who encounter those who experience mental health and addiction issues in any nursing role. Using an active learning environment in the class room, small groups of undergraduate nurses meet with those who have a lived experience of mental health and addictions issues, or their whanau/family/support members, to explore their experiences and the nursing response. The learning is based around five case studies which are designed to integrate physical and mental health learning. This is an interactive process with each undergraduate nurse taking an active role in exploring the person’s experiences by using nursing assessment and communication skills.
Data has been collected following each of the five case studies. A thematic analysis explores the learning experience, particularly the development of skills to use in clinical practice and indications of the development of compassion and empathy as nursing qualities.
Feedback shows this learning experience develops the understanding of undergraduate nurses of the person and family experience of mental health and addiction issues. This increases compassion, empathy and an interest in the nursing role. The learning experience connects knowledge to practice, along with exploring the undergraduate nurses’ values and beliefs.
This learning experience has been developed over the last five years, in partnership with a key person from Supporting Families Taranaki, who have a formal paid contract to participate. The partnership continues to evolve as feedback supports changes to the learning facilitated.
Key words: Narrative learning; thematic analysis.