Exploring the impact of digital stories on empathic learning in neonatal nurse education
Within neonatal nurse education, learning to understand the compelling emotional experiences of parents following the birth of their premature baby is essential to give person-centred empathic care. A collection of digital stories informed by parents’ experiences was created to use as a pedagogical tool for students and staff within the neonatal speciality. This study reports on an exploration of the value of these digital stories for the enhancement of empathic learning. Using the principles of narrative inquiry, a mixed-methods design comprising ‘point-of-view’, reflective exercises, interviews and a questionnaire distributed to nursing students and practice staff ascertained views of three digital stories. The participants evaluated the digital stories positively overall and it was clear they were an effective and innovative way to learn about emotional experiences of parents. Powerful emotional messages from parents enhanced awareness, understanding and insight into their affective experience. Within the context of narrative-based neonatal education, there is a place for digital storytelling as a pedagogical strategy informed by parent narratives, to teach students and staff about the emotional impact of the neonatal care experience. In turn, this can potentially lead to more empathic, person-centred care relating to the families of sick, vulnerable babies.