Nursing students could study Hollywood movies for course

NURSING students could be asked to take their study into the loungeroom to watch films such as Girl, Interrupted and Good Will Hunting or to read novels such as The English Patient.

That's according to CQUniversity's Professor Margaret McAllister who urges research into the value of powerful story-telling (stimulus material) to awaken nursing students' understanding of and engagement with mental health recovery.

Prof McAllister says the movie watching and book reading activities would need to be guided by educators and cannot replace the value of hearing recovery stories directly from mental health consumers.

However, she says there is potential for further transformative learning to help students let go of ill-fitting attitudes and biases in the journey from lay person to professional nurse.

Prof McAllister says narrative arts can be a rich medium enabling students to engage emotionally and to awaken their imaginations, making them want to delve deeper into an issue or experience.

"It is one thing to teach mental health recovery from a theoretical position and quite another to help it come to life, in all its complexity," she says.

"Stories from lived experience are obviously one powerful way to show students that people can and do move on from the devastating impact of major mental illness … well-drawn stories from fiction are another."

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