Telling the Story of Our Lives

Nurses share the little moments that made big impacts on their careers

Julie North, MSN, RN

Chelsea Goodin, RN III

Anna Lee, RN II

Science has revealed that when we listen to a person present data and information, two parts of our brain are activated. When we hear a story, however, with characters and a narrative, six parts of our brain respond—and, according to a 2010 study co-directed by Princeton University neuroscientist Uri Hasson, our brain waves actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller, literally putting both parties on the same page.

This relationship is what Dayton, Ohio, nurse Nicole Ruttencutter is after. Her company, The Lamp, established in 2020, produces TED Talk-like storytelling events featuring nurses. The organization gets its name from “The Lady with the Lamp” herself, Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, and its goal is to combine nurses and storytelling to form a bond and raise nurses’ voices for positive change.

“The association between nursing and storytelling, in its simplest design, is about forming human connections to heal,” Nicole said.

Julie North, MSN, RN, clinical manager, Specialty Resource Nursing, was invited to a Lamp event last fall and immediately saw how storytelling could enhance her practice and others’ at Cincinnati Children’s.

"Listening to the stories of other nurses reminded me of why I fell in love with nursing,” she said. “It made me excited to get back to work.”

She shared it with the Patient Services Joy in Work retention committee and invited some nurse friends to experience it for themselves. Soon a team of three nurses had taken one of The Lamp workshops and had signed on to perform at the socially distanced, live February 2021 event.

Anna Lee, RN II, clinical manager, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), was among them. “I did not expect just how therapeutic the experience would be and how I could relate to every nurses’ story, no matter what type of nurse they were or how long they have been a nurse,” she said.

For Chelsea Goodin, RN III, Bone Marrow Transplant, the result was therapeutic. “I realized how important storytelling is with nurses. It is not only a learning technique, but it is a coping strategy,” she said. “Going through The Lamp with other nurses, I got to watch their journey through their story, and it gave us a bond that only nurses could understand.”

Sharing Their Stories

Finding Her Voice

When Chelsea Goodin showed up for the workshop, she wasn’t even sure she had a story to tell. Growing up, she was used to hearing accounts of nursing experiences shared by her oncology nurse mother, but she found that once she followed the same path, she struggled to find her own voice. And then she recalled the day an alarm went off in her head while caring for a rapidly declining patient, when she knew she had found it. What she shared was a powerful account of patient advocacy.

Taking On a Challenge

Anna Lee has been a nurse for 14 years in the PICU; however, she wasn’t always so sure of her path. After all, she entered nursing school the week after she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Theater. As she shared, she is always looking for a challenge, and after just a few minutes in the PICU, she knew that was the place to find one. In her story, she described how that choice put her in the unique situation of helping a mother of a terminally ill child deal with her own personal struggle.

The Art of Caring

Self-professed “adrenaline junkie” Julie North was a quick study on clinical nursing skills, and the more urgent a situation, the better. A skilled clinician and an ECMO specialist, North was caught off guard when she was recognized for the extra efforts she made for a family beyond medical poles and pumps. These are a few examples of narratives that the Joy in Work Committee hopes to share as a way to connect our nurses and highlight their dedication to our expectations and values.

“We all have experiences that create memories for us,” Lee said. “Sometimes it takes time and a lot of reflection and even more digging to uncover the value of these experiences and how they can shape us, not only as nurses, but as people. This reflection, time, and digging is what helps us put our stories together.”

Watch Chelsea’s, Anna’s and Julie’s performances from The Lamp’s February event.

2021 Nurses Week Virtual Events

  • Nurses Week Video: “Here Comes the Sun”
  • May 3: B. Robison Sporck Award, 1-2 pm
  • May 4: Interprofessional Inquiry Day Blessing of the Hands, 4-6 pm, Main Campus Blessing of the Hands, 4-5 pm, Liberty Campus
  • May 5: Nursing Grand Rounds: The Lamp, 12-1 pm
  • May 6: Nursing Grand Rounds: The Lamp, 12-1 pm Blessing of the Hands, 10 am-12 pm, Main Campus Blessing of the Hands, 10-11 am, Liberty Campus
  • May 7: Susan R. Allen Excellence in Nursing Leadership Award, 11 am-12 pm

Storytellers Among Us

Cincinnati Children’s 2021 Nurses Week activities (May 3-7) include two Lamp storytelling events for Nursing Grand Rounds, featuring Chelsea, Anna and Julie, as well as the following nurses:

  • Rae Becker, DNP, RN, CPN, Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute
  • Chima John, MSN, RN, CCM, Case Management
  • Caity Reynolds, RN, Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Treva Lyke, RN, Center for Simulation and Research
  • Ben Staubach, RN, B4/Newborn Intensive Care Unit
  • Maggie Humble, RN, Operating Room
  • Sharon Chaney, PhD, RN, A7 Neurology and Neuroscience

Celebrating Florence

The World Health Organization and the American Nurses Association named 2020 The International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. On May 12, 2021, we celebrate the 201st anniversary!

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