Narrative Competence: a neglected area in undergraduate curricula

Melissa Corbally, Alec Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to many inter-disciplinary scholars, including, notably, Alasdair MacIntyre and Jerome Bruner, human action draws on and is shaped by available cultural narratives. Nursing is no exception to this fact, and it is this which has prompted the creation of this paper which argues that the development of narrative competence in nursing ought to be a pressing curricular imperative. At a broad level, narrative competence refers to a finessed, ethically-charged respect for human lived and storied experience. At the level of professional development, it demands that nurses must constantly strive to improve on their abilities around attending, interpreting and intelligently responding to the stories of people in their care (Charon 2007, Bach and Grant, 2015). Doing so facilitates empathic and trustworthy practice through sensitive attunement to existential qualities such as inner hurt, despair, hope, grief, and moral pain. All of these qualities accompany the health problems that patients and clients experience, and are of course more fundamentally inscribed within the human condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-9
Number of pages3
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


  • Narrative competence
  • Nurse education
  • Narrative pedagogy
  • Curriculum development


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