Storytelling has been a cornerstone of education and culture across the world for centuries.
In preliterate times stories were used to pass on the important knowledge and cultural norms and values that sustain communities.
While storytelling has retained its significance in many cultures in the developing world, in the West it became seen as largely for entertaining or educating children. But the value of storytelling in education and training has been increasingly recognised in the UK over the past few years, and this is a welcome development.
We all love good stories - I remember far more of the stories I read as a child than the academic texts I read as an undergraduate. That’s because stories engage us, take us on a journey, and show us the world from a different perspective. So I’m delighted that storytelling is increasingly used in healthcare education and practice, as our articles on the use of stories in NHS organisations and nurse education demonstrate.
There can be few areas with such a wealth of powerful stories as healthcare. These may be from patients, families or staff, and can range from the tragic to the triumphant. Appropriately used they can offer staff - and patients and their families - the opportunity to look at life through someone else’s eyes. These stories should be used to help health professionals to improve their abilities to offer patient-focused care.