Looking back two years, Craig Erickson, BSN, RN, CPN, was just trying to encourage his fellow nurses and nurse managers. “Do you ever find yourself struggling with the families of your patients?” he wrote in an open letter to his hospital colleagues. The letter was his method of dealing with the critical attitudes he’d experienced while caring for the baby of a drug-addicted mom.
“I just wrote about my own struggle with a baby going through withdrawal and the parent’s drug addiction,” he said. “I admitted my own lack of understanding and empathy when caring for drug-addicted parents. I knew we needed to be encouraging each other to love these folks. We needed to care not only for the baby, but also to encourage the parents as they learned to make right choices.”
Craig sent the letter to managers he knew around the hospital as well as the float pool nurses he worked with--and received surprising, positive feedback. Nurses and managers were forwarding his letter to their colleagues. As a result, coworkers to whom he had not sent the letter also responded positively to his message.
Since then, Craig has penned letters every couple of months to his coworkers throughout Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. “I’m trying to connect my faith and the call Christ has given me with the mission and vision of my organization.”
The letters have found their way to staff he never imagined would read them. One day while floating to the hematology/oncology unit, Craig walked in to give report and found a nurse reading one of his letters. “She said she had received it from her manager and she just needed to re-read it that day to be reminded of why she was there.” He said he didn’t think this nurse was a Christian, but was desperately seeking some encouragement in her work, and was finding it in that letter.
The hospital president also became a reader. She said she noticed a spiritual aspect to the letter she had read, and she thought people were resonating with that. Craig said that he never mentioned Jesus, so it was an interesting connection. Because his words connected so much with what the hospital was about, the president used part of Craig’s letter in her state of the hospital speech.
The letters have sparked conversations with coworkers who are Christians and non-Christians alike—many who Craig hadn’t met before. This has opened up opportunities to talk about spiritual matters. He’s now pursuing starting an NCF group in Cleveland.
Craig says he’s not a terribly good writer, but God leads him in what to write. “I have a passion for caring for people—not just our patients, but also the nurses caring for those patients.”
“I think this is a God-inspired ministry. It’s opened doors that I wouldn’t have imagined when I got into nursing. It’s allowed me to encourage managers and to connect with so many different people. And it fits so well with the faith I have and the call I feel.”
If you’re interested in joining an NCF group to be encouraged in your Christian journey and also in your professional life, check out this page on the NCF website: http://ncf-jcn.org/map/
If you'd like to download and read more of Craig's letters, click here.