Nursing Education Change and Storytelling Method

The process of change requires the utmost attention and the involvement of effective leadership practices. For the practicum project in question, the most feasible risks lie within the domain of teamwork and cooperation. To minimize the risks associated with it, the persuasive leadership practices are required, with storytelling being the most compelling option.

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The Hard and Soft Elements of the Project

The hard elements of change are strategy, structure, and systems (Kale, 2014). The strategy of the change proposed by the practicum project is organizing the educational process, raising awareness among the nursing personnel, and optimizing the patterns of utilizing the available equipment to prevent and reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infection due to Foley catheter use among surgical patients. The structure is represented by the dedicated committee which conducts planning of the events, issues instructions, and oversees the project progression.

The committee consists of the nursing personnel and selected hospital management representatives. A separate body of assigned nurses gathers data required to evaluate the progress. The systems include the records of the project’s milestones with appropriate results representing the success rate, the schedules of educational activities, and the list available equipment relevant for the project, such as the ultrasound scanner. The soft elements are shared values, skills, style, and staff (Kale, 2014).

The latter is predominantly comprised of nursing personnel directly involved with administering the catheters and dealing with patients, and the representatives of hospital management required to obtain the necessary clearances and provide support if needed. Due to the little need for vertical hierarchy, the leadership style is highly participative, with reliance on teamwork rather than individual effort, and the emphasis on distributed responsibility and encouraging decision-making.

The skills which the project focuses on are those directly related to the catheter administering and operating the ultrasound scanning equipment, the communicative skills necessary for explaining the risks and drawbacks of Foley catheter usage to patients, and the statistical data analysis skills for a successful evaluation. Finally, the shared values are the responsibility for the patient’s health, the orientation towards constant improvement, and the contribution to the project’s goals.

Role of Elements in the Project

While the identified values, strategy, and systems are likely to facilitate change by creating a unified vision, communicating the mission between participants, and enhancing motivation by providing the results in comprehensive and approachable form, some other elements may introduce barriers to change. For instance, the highlighted skills are the goal rather than the readily available assets, so on the initial stage, the positive outcomes will likely not be based on them.

The structure and staff visibly depend on the level of involvement and the readiness for the cooperation of the hospital management, which, if not secured, will slow down the pace of the project. Finally, the leadership style relies heavily on the high level of nurses’ involvement, which can only be achieved if all of the staff shares the vision of the project’s organizing committee and responsibly performs in the respective fields (Bartsch, Ebers, & Maurer, 2013).

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The teamwork partially mitigates this risk but does not eliminate it. To assure the commitment and responsibility of the staff, some leadership effort is required. For instance, the practice of storytelling can be utilized to improve the chances of successful project completion.

Storytelling as an Effective Communication Technique

Storytelling is a relatively young trend in leadership practices and is not universally recognized. Nevertheless, it presents a range of advantages over traditional and more established leadership practices, especially given their orientation towards the business world, and, as a result, towards profit-based organizations. First, storytelling relies on vivid and understandable images rather than more abstract concepts (Denning, 2011).

It is easier to make a point by providing an example than by operating the categories of responsibility, commitment, and achievement. Besides, a good story is remembered more easily than the most motivating speech, which was recognized long ago in didactic literature. The narrative approach also includes several characteristics that provide opportunities for capturing the attention of the audience. The existence of the protagonist allows the listeners to easily associate themselves with the story. Such a connection, in turn, makes the leader’s goals more easily achievable.

The inclusion of the rich details also prevents the loss of interest among the audience, which is especially relevant for longer messages. Despite this, however, the excessive length is not recommended, as the short narrative is more easily filled with events. Besides, the pace of the story can be regulated by the inclusion of the unpredictable twists and unusual details, which will grasp the attention of the audience and leave a more visible impression (Auvinen, Aaltio, & Blomqvist, 2013).

The stories can also appeal to human emotions, such as love or joy, which is among the easiest ways of facilitating compassion. Finally, stories provide opportunities for simplifying complex ideas and constructs. While the necessity of simplification is recognized in all leadership strategies, storytelling allows us to frame it as an allegory, which combines the benefits of vivid imagery, entertainment, and approachability.

The Example of the Story

The project in question relies on participation and cooperation but ultimately depends on individual skills and experience. Thus, the story which can be told as a part of facilitating change needs to emphasize both the team values and the individual responsibilities (Carboni & Ehrlich, 2013).

On a rainy night, the man who was driving through the rural road got stuck in the deep mud. He exited the car and tried to find help in the nearby house. The place appeared to belong to an old man, who said he had a mule capable of dragging the car out of the mud. When the two men came to the barn, it became apparent that the mule, whose name was Caesar, is really old and barely moves. Nevertheless, the old man insisted that the animal was able to do the hard work. Having no plausible alternative, the man agreed, and they came to the place where his car was standing half-buried in the ditch.

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The old man hitched the animal to the car, and started to shout “Pull, Caesar! Pull, Barney! Pull, Irma!” With apparent difficulty, the mule has slowly pulled the car out of the ditch. After the work had been done, the man asked why the animal was called by three names. The old man explained that the mule was almost blind, and could not see anything around him. However, when he heard the names of other animals, who were long dead, he pushed with the doubled determination, believing he was a part of the team.


In this story, the teamwork is implied as motivation while the individual effort is prioritized. It contains a clever twist which will hopefully draw attention and empowers the staff to facilitate change by making the best possible effort in creating educational sessions or simply exhibiting responsibility in everyday activities relevant to the project. It is worth noting that the story does not encompass all the stakeholders and targets only the nursing staff, which will execute the majority of work in the process.


Auvinen, T., Aaltio, I., & Blomqvist, K. (2013). Constructing leadership by storytelling-the meaning of trust and narratives. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 34(6), 496-514.

Bartsch, V., Ebers, M., & Maurer, I. (2013). Learning in project-based organizations: The role of project teams’ social capital for overcoming barriers to learning. International Journal of Project Management, 31(2), 239-251.

Carboni, I., & Ehrlich, K. (2013). The effect of relational and team characteristics on individual performance: a social network perspective. Human Resource Management, 52(4), 511-535.

Denning, S. (2011). The leader’s guide to storytelling: mastering the art and discipline of business narrative. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Kale, V. (2014). Inverting the paradox of excellence: How companies use variations for business excellence and how enterprise variations are enabled by SAP. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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