International Nurses Day 2017: True, personal stories from nursing researchers

We’re honoring International Nurses Day this week (May 12th) with a spotlight on our incredible nursing researchers. Read and listen to true, personal stories told by nurses themselves! 






Madrean Schober, PhD, MSN, BGS, ANP, FAANP, a global healthcare consulting expert reflects on the roles she’s adopted in her life, including how the emerging position of nurse practitioner had an unparalleled impact on her career. Listen to her story below!


Sheila Bonito shares her experience living in a developing country and working as a nurse in a community that’s all too familiar with natural disasters. Read her story below!

Written by Sheila Bonito

One would think that people involved with working in disasters must be brave and courageous.  I am not.  I took up nursing because I could not make the commute to a farther campus, where I would suffer from motion sickness riding the bus.  I do not faint from the sight of blood but the idea of being pricked by a needle sends a nervous tingle through my body. Somehow I was able to survive nursing school and was able to work in the surgical intensive care unit in the Philippine’s premier tertiary hospital.  I never had first-hand experience working as a staff nurse in disaster times, but living in a developing country where natural hazards are common, I have memories of typhoons where the first floor of our house was flooded. We even had to take in neighbours to live with us on the second floor.  I have felt the tremor of a mighty earthquake that struck several buildings miles away from me.  I have seen the majestic eruption of Mayon Volcano and witnessed the ash fall that Mt Pinatubo caused.  And I have experienced working with limited supplies and sometimes long power outages when even hospital generators were not enough. I’ve even had to do manual compression of an ambubag for patients in need of respirators. But these experiences were at least under “normal” circumstances.  I know that working in a hospital during disasters is a lot worse.

Through the many years of living in a country with all these natural hazards, one becomes either desensitized to the threat or one gets immersed in the work needed to prevent, mitigate and prepare individuals and communities.  I chose the latter.  I have worked with the Health Emergency Management Staff of the Department of Health and the Emergency Humanitarian Action of World Health Organization in mounting campaigns to raise awareness on Safe Hospitals and document major disasters in the country in order to learn from them.  I have also had the privilege of working with nurse leaders in the Asia Pacific Disaster Nursing Network (APEDNN) where the contribution of nurses and midwives in disaster preparedness, response and recovery are very important.  In 2008, I was involved together with nurses from APEDNN in training Chinese nurses on psychological first aid to help in caring for survivors of the Sichuan earthquake. Since then, APEDNN has been working with nurse leaders to build capacities of nurses and midwives in emergencies and disasters.

Strengthened by the experience in APEDNN, I accepted the responsibility to be Chair of the Disaster Preparedness Committee of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) from 2010 – 2016.  The work was voluntary but crucial since PNA is the national nursing association.  In 2011, we helped in supporting victims of Typhoon Sendong (Typhoon Washi) that killed 1249 in Cagayan de Oro through psychological first aid and provision of relief medications and supplies.  In 2012 we also helped local nurses in Davao face the challenge of helping victims of Typhoon Pablo (Typhoon Bopha) that killed 1067 and displaced nearly 200,000 people.  In 2013, we faced an even greater challenge, helping survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Typhoon Haiyan).

Typhoon Haiyan was the world’s strongest storm in recent history, that killed 6,300 people and affected about 11 million people.  I remember monitoring the news as the super typhoon traversed the country.  We thought we were spared the worst since we did not hear right away the devastation that happened in Tacloban due to power and communication failures.  Immediately after hearing what happened, we started coordinating with national agencies and with our local nurses to mount whatever support we can extend to the survivors.  We never dreamed of being able to go to the disaster site knowing how difficult the situation was.  And yet we had the opportunity of helping first hand when survivors were airlifted from Tacloban and brought to Manila.  We organized nurses to meet these survivors and help them through rapid health assessment, psychological first aid and reuniting them with relatives and friends in Metro Manila. PNA also initiated a call for donations for affected nurses and communities. We issued a call for nurse volunteers for deployment to affected areas.  We used social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, in issuing calls for donations and volunteers.  PNA demonstrated its role to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery efforts to demonstrate a strong collective action of nurses in emergency and disasters.

Working with people in times of emergencies/ disasters is an eye opening experience that teaches you the importance of always being ready.  The publication of The Role of nurses in Disaster Management in Asia Pacificthe ten case studies in Asia Pacific describing the work of nurses in disaster preparedness, response and recovery, highlights the different roles nurses occupy in helping save lives and supporting communities build back up better.  I hope that these case studies inspire more nurses to get involved in emergency and disaster nursing work.

Visit the Springer page for more on International Nurses Day!

World Storytelling Day 2017

Storytelling comes in many forms these days but whether you prefer to read, watch, or listen in, we can all agree that stories help us share our experiences and connect to each other in an unparalleled way. At Springer Nature, our preferred method of sharing stories is through the Springer Nature Storytellers program. As today is World Storytelling Day, we’re taking a moment to appreciate the science behind storytelling, our favorite medium for telling stories, and the remarkable scientists who have shared their stories with us.

The Power of Storytelling

In a guest post from the Director of our partner organization, The Story Collider, Liz Neeley cites the work of psychologist Susan Fiske who discovered that the public respects scientists but doesn’t necessarily trust them. Our perceptions of strangers are influenced mainly by two factors; competence and warmth. While scientists ranked high in competence, they received low scores in warmth.

That’s where the power of storytelling comes in. When we hear a story, one of the primary emotions that our brain experiences is empathy. By opening up and sharing a personal story, scientists actively melt the cold reputation that they often develop with the public.

Your Brain on Podcasts

We all have our favorite podcasts. They’re a fantastic way to stay entertained during our daily commute and can be an excellent opportunity to fit some new knowledge into our day. Podcasts are an especially great channel for science communication. Even the most complex scientific research can be made accessible to the public when unpacked in a brief radio segment. But did you know that listening to stories actually alters your brain chemistry?

In an April 2016 article titled “This is Your Brain on Podcasts,” The New York Times cited research published in our very own Naturehighlighting how both hemispheres of the brain quite literally light up when listening to a podcast—“A living internal reality takes over the brain.” Hearing one word will activate your brain’s entire network for that word. When we listen to stories specifically, our brains release more oxytocin, which is associated with empathy, as mentioned above. The power of podcasts lies in the way they hook our emotions and fire up our minds, activating the brain’s semantic network. Information we hear becomes more memorable; research becomes more impactful.

Listen to our podcast library here!

The Voices of Springer Nature Storytellers

We are fortunate to get to work with so many brilliant researchers, helping many of them find their storytelling voice for the first time. If you or someone you know has published with Springer Nature and has a story to tell, please get in touch by sending an email to We want to hear your story!


“I realized that some stories aren’t meant to be shared on paper, they’re meant to be shared out loud; precisely the personal kinds of stories that scientists don’t usually tell.” –Susan Hough, seismologist, US Geological Survey
“To offer advice to anyone contemplating doing this — in two words: do it. And when you do, focus on the personal aspects and let the science take a back seat.” –Kaspar von Braun, astrophysicist, Lowell Observatory

More About Storytelling

Check out Parts 1, 2 and 3 of our Practical Storytelling Series for tips and advice on how you can use storytelling to communicate your research with a wider audience.

And for further reading on storytelling from Springer Nature, take a look at the books, chapters, and articles linked below:

The Essential Role of Storytelling in the Search for Truth (Scientific American) (2017)

The Art of Storytelling (2016)

“The Physics of Love ©”: using humor and storytelling to open minds and hearts to green values (2014)

Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches (2013)

Storytelling in the Digital Age (2013)

Storytelling (2010)


Caught Being Stupid

Wishing to show the humanity and complexity of the lives of people who turn to drugs and crime, criminologist Heith Copes embarks on a photo ethnography of methamphetamine use in rural Alabama. But what begins as a research project quickly becomes a life-altering lesson in the truth behind stereotypes, the importance of empathy, and the unparalleled power of human connection.

Listen to Heith recount his time spent on Sand Mountain and meet the individuals from his story, captured in the emotional photo series GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain by Jared Ragland.

Listen on iTunes!

Hover over each photo to view captions and click to enlarge. Additional photographs and expanded captions can be seen at​

All photos by Jared Ragland, from the series GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2016.

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Scientists, They’re Just Like Us

We asked The Story Collider’s Artistic Director, Erin Barker, to share her behind-the-scenes experience working with Springer Nature authors in preparation for our live storytelling events. Here Erin remarks on a single moment from Col. Robert Lim‘s story, explaining how personal stories have the power to humanize science in an unparalleled way. Stay tuned for Col. Lim’s story airing this Friday, February 17th! 

Written by Erin Barker

At the Story Collider’s “Surgeons” show with Springer Storytellers in DC last October, military surgeon Col. Rob Lim described standing at the border of Iraq in darkness before the initial invasion began in 2003, counting down, waiting for shock and awe. “We saw the planes go over, heard the artillery fire, it’s happening,” Lim said in his story. “I turned to one of my buddies and said, ‘How do we do our laundry?’”

Erin Barker, Artistic Director of The Story Collider

This, to me, is the perfect example of what makes the kind of true, personal stories The Story Collider and Springer Storytellers produce so special. We often hear about medicine and international conflict, but we don’t often hear about the everyday, human aspects of being a person embroiled in these things. We can learn countless facts and figures, but to really understand what it feels like to be a part of it, in the moment? You can’t find that anywhere other than a true, personal story from someone’s life. These stories allow us a temporary window into someone else’s heart and mind, into an experience that we may never have. They allow us to connect with someone we’ve never met. And building this connection between scientists and the public is becoming ever more important.

These stories allow us a temporary window into someone else’s heart and mind, into an experience that we may never have.

For example, Stanford psychologist Susan Fiske has found that the general public respects scientists, but doesn’t quite trust them. According to Fiske, there are two factors that influence our perceptions of strangers: competence — how knowledgeable and capable we seem; and warmth — whether we have our our audience’s best interests in mind. In order to be seen as trustworthy, and communicate effectively with the public, we need to be perceived as both competent and warm. And in fact, warmth matters a lot. In her 2006 paper “Universal dimensions of social cognition: warmth and competence,” Dr. Fiske tells us, “warmth is judged before competence, and warmth judgments carry more weight in affective and behavioral reactions.”

Unfortunately, when she conducted her study, asking her subjects to rate different professions and groups of people according to these qualities, scientists ranked high in competence but low in warmth.

I probably don’t need to tell you that scientists often focus on competence, and even deliberately tamp down perception of warmth to emphasize competence. It makes sense when you consider that, in many ways, scientists are trained to reduce their intrinsic warmth. It’s a natural instinct for a profession that, quite rightly, values objectivity. But when we focus on competence at the expense of warmth, we miss out on a valuable opportunity to connect with and inspire our audience.

So can scientists emphasize our warmth? According to Dr. Fiske, people trust people they think are like themselves — people who share their values and goals. And not only that, but they will go out of their way to support these folks. When we share stories that reveal our humanity, our imperfections, our vulnerabilities, our humor, we show our audience that we’re like them, and that we’re trustworthy.

When Col. Lim shared his story with our audience, he became something even more than a surgeon who has saved lives on and off the battlefield — he became a real, live human being. Someone we feel like we know, and want to root for. When I worked with Col. Lim on his story in the weeks leading up to the show, I encouraged him to include not only the kind of details that let the audience visualize the experience, but also those that let us in on his mindset. For example, the fact that he was unable to shower for eighteen days as they made the long, slow trip into Baghdad. Hearing his human reactions to these things makes us think, Scientists–they’re just like us.