What Is Narrative Writing? (With Types)

While nursing primarily revolves around medical knowledge and care procedures, a side is profoundly rooted in individual experiences, emotions, and tales of humanity. One avenue where this intertwining is evident is in narrative nursing essays. But what are the different types of narrative writing that nursing essays employ?

What is a Narrative?

At its core, a narrative is a structured account of connected events. It’s not just about stating facts; it’s about telling a real or fictional story. In nursing, narratives often focus on personal experiences, patient stories, historical accounts of nursing practices, or even hypothetical scenarios that serve as learning tools.

Structure of a Personal Narrative

The structure of a narrative revolves around a clear, engaging storytelling format. It starts with an introduction that includes a hook to grab the reader’s interest and setting the scene, which establishes the context of your story.

You might also hint at the main idea or lesson learned here. The body of the narrative typically unfolds in a chronological order, though sometimes, flashbacks or non-linear sequences can be used for dramatic effect. Here, vivid descriptions bring the story to life, with detailed portrayals of characters, settings, and events.

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The narrative often centers on a key conflict or challenge, delving into the emotional journey and personal growth that results from it. In the conclusion, the story reaches its resolution, offering a reflection on the experience and its impact.

This part ties back to the central theme stated in the narrative introduction, often leaving the reader with a final, thought-provoking message or insight. Throughout, it’s the authenticity and emotional depth that truly captivate the reader in a personal narrative.

Common Types of Narratives in Nursing Essays

While the clinical aspect of nursing demands strict adherence to protocols and medical guidelines, the humanistic side delves deep into personal experiences, emotions, and intricate tales of patient care.

Narrative writing in nursing is a platform where these two domains converge, offering a window into healthcare professionals’ challenges, triumphs, and insights. Here are the common narratives utilized in nursing essays to convey these experiences.

Descriptive Narrative

Descriptive narratives primarily focus on detailing events, environments, or experiences with an emphasis on sensory details. This type of narrative helps readers visualize, hear, and even feel the setting and events being described. 

Descriptive narratives are all about painting a vivid picture. Nursing essays aim to provide a detailed account of an event, a procedure, or an experience, allowing readers to visualize the situation as if they were there themselves.

Example: A nursing student might write about their first time administering an injection, detailing the weight of the syringe, the anxiety on the patient's face, the feel of the skin, and the palpable sense of accomplishment after successfully completing the procedure.

Viewpoint Narrative

The viewpoint narrative, as the name suggests, prioritizes perspective. It offers a lens into the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of a particular individual involved in an event. In nursing, this narrative style can provide invaluable insights by allowing readers to step into the shoes of a patient, nurse, caregiver, or even an administrative staff member.

Here, the narrative delves deep into perspectives. It focuses on showcasing a particular viewpoint, often helping to cultivate empathy and understanding. In nursing, this might mean narrating an event from the perspective of a patient, a nurse, or even a family member.

Example: An essay could be written from the viewpoint of an elderly patient suffering from dementia, capturing their confusion, the fragments of lucidity, and their reactions to the bustling hospital environment around them.

Historical Narrative

Drawing from the annals of time, historical narratives in nursing chronicle events, breakthroughs, or shifts in healthcare practices through the ages. These narratives provide context, showing how past events have shaped current practices and highlighting the evolution of the nursing profession.

This narrative style chronicles events in a sequential manner, often focusing on significant moments in nursing history. An essay might trace the evolution of nursing uniforms, starting from the long white dresses of the past to the modern scrubs of today.

Effective historical narratives often employ time-related words like “initially,” “subsequently,” or “in the 20th century” to provide chronological clarity.

Linear Narrative

In a straightforward and chronological storytelling style, linear narratives move from point A to point B, providing a clear sequence of events. This style can be used in nursing essays to trace a patient’s journey from diagnosis to treatment and recovery or to detail a nurse’s personal growth over the years.

Example: A nurse might narrate their 12-hour shift, beginning with the morning handover, moving through patient consultations, lunch breaks, emergencies, and finally ending with the evening handover and reflections on the day.

Nonlinear Narrative

Breaking away from the chronological mold, nonlinear narratives offer a more fragmented account, often jumping between time periods or events. This type of narrative can be particularly engaging, offering readers puzzle pieces that fit together as they progress through the story.

Unlike linear narratives, nonlinear ones don’t follow a straightforward chronological progression. They might jump back and forth in time, offering a more fragmented but often more intriguing account of events.

Example: An essay could start with a nurse attending to a critical patient in an emergency room, then jump back to when the nurse was a student, facing doubts about their career choice, then jump forward again to the patient's recovery and the nurse's feelings of affirmation.

Final Thoughts

Nursing narratives offer a unique blend of clinical insights and human stories. Whether it’s detailing an event, sharing a viewpoint, recounting history, or presenting events in a linear or non-linear manner, narrative essays in nursing provide an invaluable platform.

They bridge the gap between the technicalities of the profession and the deeply human experiences that lie at its heart, fostering understanding, empathy, and a deeper appreciation for the noble world of nursing.

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