Tom explores the often fragile nature of new ideas and concepts and how the #poeticnursingheart grew organically from the shared needs of students and staff

#poeticnursingheart – Nurturing the butterfly flame

When you start a small fire you have to establish an ember. This ember then needs to be added to a combustible source and very lightly and carefully nurtured to a flame. As an academic at a university I was becoming aware of my own creative learning style. Through completing the PGCAP it became more evident that I needed to value my skill sets and ask that the learner try to challenge the formative and summative assessment expectations, essentially not just think outside the box but rethink it entirely. Within one module looking at a number of threshold concepts in nursing theory the students were asked to pick a pioneer and feedback the inquiry to the group. What followed was quite simply a sublime piece of prose from the perspective of the students informed by the philosophy of the chosen theorist. This was the ember…..


This and other poetry being produced and reflected by the students needed an audience as it was not simply relevant for that group of learners, it had significance both for that cohort and the other year groups within the faculty. The idea of a symposium was born, in the hope that we could nurture this ember to have others grouped together and establish a creative flame.


The #Poeticnursingheart was a two day poetry symposium allowing the academic and student a safe place to simply be and if desired share prose. The values were simple and organic, attend and listen or recite. These were reflected in a thank you to the attendees for simply being themselves. There were guest poets invited form the wise words poetry festival and the feedback formed the crowd sourced poem supplied. The poem being based around the thoughts and feelings associated with happiness.


What happened over those two days can be attributed to a growing ideology that the arts and health are deeply entwined and the folk, storytelling sphere of making meaning is a very central part of gaining self-awareness. This self-awareness is very heavily associated with emotional intelligence which improves care and compassion in patient and family centred care. I can hear my colleagues and fellow academics screaming for evidence and supportive underpinning. The list is endless as it lend to the ‘reflective practicum’ work of Schon (1983, 1987), the therapeutic Principles of Rogers (1967), the concerned psychodynamic voice of Menzies lyth (1960) in the seminal work around ‘social systems in defence’ then echoed by Edwards (2014) following the Francis report. It also attends to the partnerships in learning between the academic and the leaner, flattening the hierarchy for a small period of time. It also establishes creative individual thought where individuals can recover and grow (Bolton and Delderfield 2017).


The next aim is to nurture the butterfly flame and find a way of lighting multiple fires within the landscape of the HEI environment ensuring the values and the student partnership is honoured and maintained. The most important aspect being the development of the values within the academics as Larivee (2000) suggested that it’s an extension of the educator’s appreciation of personal vulnerability. This being characterised in increased active reflexivity.

So what next…………………



Reflect, respond, contribute #poeticnursingheart