Recognizing Our Nursing Roots

This excerpt of the newly revised book, Called to Care: A Christian Vision for Nursing, 3rd. ed., is from the first chapter, under the section Nursing Today.

The nursing profession is undoubtedly different from what it was when Florence Nightingale carried her lamp more than 150 years ago. Nursing has been affected by major healthcare reform, largely as a result of the change implemented pursuant to the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The literature cites the high cost of care, changing demographics, lack of quality, variation in healthcare delivery, and increased incidence of chronic illness as just a few of the drivers of change in the healthcare system (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017).

Crosshairs of Change

Nonetheless, nurses are caught in the crosshairs of change. Now, more than ever, nurses need to be committed to caring not only for patients and their families but also for the concerns of the profession. We need to cultivate leadership and develop fluency to discuss the issues of health policy within an interprofessional team to articulate best practice. We need to possess the knowledge and skills that will enable us to appraise and synthesize evidence in order to deliver high quality care that is evidence-based. No one is going to do this work for us. Thus, we assert that an important part of caring includes intentional engagement with the challenges facing nursing today.

Throughout the Gospels, physical healing was intimately linked with the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus sent his followers out with instructions to heal the sick and to tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). He underlined our responsibility to provide physical care by explaining in Matthew 25:35-36, 40: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me. … Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Restored to Health and to God

However, Jesus did not stop there. Throughout the Gospels, we see how the ultimate purpose for physical healing was to restore people to a vital relationship with God and the community.

If that is the case, nursing cannot work toward a goal of health without including the clear proclamation of the gospel, as well as provide physical care with a servant attitude. Nursing as a vocation, or calling, from God must return to its roots in the church and Christian faith in order to work toward the goal of true health.

Salmond, S. W., & Echevarria, M. (2017). Healthcare transformation and changing roles for nursing. Orthopedic Nursing, 36(1), 12-25.

Called to Care: A Christian Vision for Nursing, 3rd edition, by Judith Allen Shelly, Arlene B. Miller, and Kimberly H. Fenstermacher. Releasing July 2021 from InterVarsity Press. Preorders:


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