"This could only be God!" thought Renee Lick as she stepped into the sunlit room to speak on spiritual care to more than 220 nursing students and faculty. Renee’s workshop, “Caring for the Spiritual Needs of our Patients,” was sponsored by the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
It was ten years ago that Renee first visited the UIC College of Nursing and she has often prayed that Christians would have opportunities to influence what the students were taught. Now, a decade later, Renee is part of the answer to this prayer. Her workshop is mandatory for all bachelor’s degree nursing students.
Christian faculty members and administrative staff at UIC paved the way. One faculty member pointed out during a curriculum review that spiritual care was not being taught as part of the nurse’s role. She lobbied for change and other faculty members agreed.
At the seminar on October 21, Renee addressed how the spiritual life of nurses directly affects the spiritual care given to their patients. She asked every student to find a partner and answer one of these spiritual assessment questions used with patients:
- Who or what provides you with strength and hope?
- Is prayer useful in your life?
- How do you express your spirituality or religious beliefs?
- What type of spiritual or religious support would you like?
- What are your spiritual goals?
- How does your faith help you cope with illness?
“I prayed that students who have not asked spiritual questions themselves would begin to do so and start on a journey of seeking God,” Renee said. “I knew they would come with questions, past hurts, and varying spiritual perceptions of God. Yet God knows each one of them; I know he is here.”
One student said she was excited about the spiritual assessment questions because her faith is what motivated her to pursue nursing. Another student said that the assessment questions were difficult for her to answer because she didn't often think about "these things" (i.e. her source of meaning, purpose, or strength, etc.). Renee assigned the students to reflect more on the spiritual assessment questions before their next seminar on November 4.
One highlight was Renee’s conversation with Jane* who entered the nursing program in her 30’s after surviving a brain tumor. She had been far from God but he really got her attention when her life and health were in jeopardy. Then she knew that God wanted her to make a difference in people's lives through nursing.
“I prayed with her and was so thankful to hear about her journey with God,” Renee said. “I know that she is going to be an excellent nurse and, more importantly, she will be a nurse who is following Jesus!”
Renee Lick is the Director of Student Ministries for Nurses Christian Fellowship. Please pray for Renee who will be presenting the second session on November 4th.
*Name changed to protect privacy.