Using Stories to Educate
Whether I am working in the lab, in the school or out at a lecture, I find that using story telling is one of the best ways to convey a point. It is an art and I tend to use the same experiences over and over to teach. In the end, I have found that if I have rehearsed and rehashed some of them, I can use them in any situation.
Today at school I was substitute teaching for a class of medical office assistant students. One of the things I teach them is study skills and the importance of sleep as one of their tools to being a successful student. I use the comparison of the computer to the brain and the comparison of the brain to an accessible file cabinet to explain how the different stages of sleep work. I also tell the story of a college student I have worked with who used to cram for exams and had come in to the lab to prove she had narcolepsy when what she really had was sleep deprivation. Once she started to make sleep a priority, she found her memory improved and she really did not need medication.
Although the story is general, the students can relate as they understand the feeling and need for cramming -- and that if sleep helped one person it might help them.
I also use examples of myself and sleep and what I do for my sleep routine. I usually make them funny like the fact that I do 10 minutes of yoga and when I started I could touch my knees and now I can actually touch my toes. Again it makes the story relatable and allows them to understand that they might benefit from a slight change in behavior.
As we move forward in our field we will continue to add education to our arsenal of skills and using story telling as one of our tools will be essential. We just need to make sure it is general and we do not share information that is not true or that can identify a specific patient.
If you would like an outline of how I create my examples for different questions just let me know and I will be happy to share.