Christian Nursing 101

Carrie DameronWhat does it mean to be a Christian nurse? How is Christian faith reflected in essential skills for our profession and practice?

"Bringing the person and teachings of Jesus to healthcare is challenging," says JCN author Carrie Dameron. "Seeking truth through Jesus will always be an essential first step for the Christian nurse." She outlines additional fundamental characteristics in her article, "What is the Essence of Christian Nursing?", from the Journal of Christian Nursing, Oct. – Dec. 2010:

Carrie emphasizes that Christian nurses recognize:

  • the importance of prayer.
  • the intricate connection of the body, mind, and spirit.
  • the hope of eternal life.
  • that fundamental nursing skills are transformed by Jesus.
  • that professional standards, ethics and values take on a new light in Christ.

"We are all on our own journey of faith," says Carrie in the new JCN column, Christian Nursing 101. "This is a place to build faith and become better practitioners in applying Christ's work to nursing."

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DEATH HAPPENS Every person will die. All of us are mortal creatures. Many of us don’t deal with this fact, but it is true. None of us are in any hurry to die, but the sooner we face our own mortality the better this life will be. This is a talk I give to the student nurses I work with. It is after I have spent some time with each of them, one on one. This talk is one I wish I had been given in my youth. I was fortunate to attend a Catholic nursing school. It was a special experience, especially since I am not a Catholic. I went to nursing school thinking nuns were angels sent to Earth by God to help people on this life’s journey. (I had seen nuns only in movies such as the Bell’s of Saint Mary, and the movie nuns were ever so sweet and pious and kind.) I found out nuns are very human women who can be very determined and a bit rigid at times. The nuns at my nursing school meant for the nursing students to walk a very narrow path and to follow the rules strictly. Yes, I bristled at this; it was 1970 a tumultuous time in America. Surprisingly I found myself liking the structure and doing well in school. The discipline and study hours, along with morning prayers were just what I needed. So I learned much about the workings of the human body and how to care for its needs in a Christian environment. This Christian atmosphere included the emphasis of treating each patient as a child of God; not just the gallbladder in room 402. The Holistic approach was stressed, treating the whole person “mind, body and spirit”. I am saying I grew a lot in the three years I lived at nursing school. My faith deepened in the Lord and I learned to accept and respect a religion different from my own. This is a big part of who I am today. When I speak to nursing students today I openly tell them I am a Christian and I believe this life is just the beginning of what is ahead for me. I also tell them I am not preaching to them. I am telling them my beliefs so they know I have thought of my own mortality. I say that until each of us considers our own mortality we can not accept or deal with another person’s death. In nursing, as in life, I have dealt with death. Sometimes it had been very up close and personal. Caring for some one who I have become fond of, caring for them and their family as that patient dies, I have shed many tears. If I didn’t have a sense of my own mortality I would not have been able to continue working as a nurse. I would have been devastated by each and every death I witnessed. I have seen many nurses who have left nursing “because it is too hard” or the honest “I can’t handle this”. This is a shame because many of these nurses were very good at caring for patients. They were well educated and knowledgeable, kind and caring, but “people aren’t supposed to die”. One nurse told me this and I was flabbergasted. Nurses don’t become nurses to watch people die, this is true. We become nurses to help them recover their health. We study and read the scientific journals to keep up with all the new fancy things that are here or are coming, to help in caring for and curing patients from their diseases. We keep up with the evidenced based research in nursing. We are willing to work night shifts, weekends, holidays and 12 hour shifts to be there for the patients. We are willing to endure the back aches, the running around, the anger of patients and their families, when we can’t be every where at the same time, and the over time, spent finishing our charting. But unless we can accept mortality we just can’t keep working as nurses. It hurts too much. The human body wears out. This is a fact. It may wear out from disease or from old age but it wears out. Some experience a trauma that can not be overcome; the damage is too much to heal from. Each of our bodies will eventually give up the ghost. I suggest to the student nurses, and to each of us, to take some time and think about what happens to you when you die. We all have a soul, some call it a spirit, and this is the essence of who we really are. This soul or spirit is the most important part of our being. Yet so often in our day to day lives we ignore it or don’t give it a thought. I ask you to ponder your true existence, that of your soul. At least figure out that you have a soul, you may call it a spirit. I want you to know that your soul doesn’t die when your body dies. I listen to the radio on my way to work and often find Sister Ann Shield’s program “Food for the Journey”. (Yes, I’m back to those Catholic nuns again.) Her program is only 15 minutes; she reads from the Bible and talks about how to enrich life each day by drawing nearer to our Creator, God. This reminds me of morning prayers back in nursing school and it helps me start my day in a very positive way. Strengthened for whatever will come my way during the day. You may not be a Christian, but believe me you have a soul and a spirit that needs tending too. How you go about this is your own business, of course. But I ask you, for yourself and for your patients, to consider what will happen to you (your soul) when you die. The time you give to this important matter will aid you in your nursing career, I promise. You will probably still shed some tears along the way, I do. Once you figure out your own mortality and deal with that fact, all of life will be easier.

I am excited to talk with other Christian nurses about merging our faith with our nursing practice. A question I find myself asking is, “How is a Christian nurse different from a non-believer working on the same unit, in the same clinic, or at the same university?” Tell me what you think!

Your reply is heart touching. I have the same thoughts which change my life also to an evangelizer "treat the patient as whole body, mind and spirit" as JESUS treated others. Our days in this earth are counted. I feel that every second in my life is God's gift. So each second is special to me and I should spend according to His will. God has given me a thought that JESUS CHRIST was send by Father for our salvation and the BIBLE says every ones salvation is only through Him. JESUS saved my life into eternity. But some are there still for JESUS to touch them with His everlasting Love. I should be an instrument for HIS LOVE.

Being a Christian nurse I believe that I have an important responsibility to share Jesus Christ with my patients. I'm grateful for this blog and blogs like this one where I can learn and share my experiences as a Christian nurse.

I am glad I've found this blog, it has helped me a great deal, in the pursuit of my career and my faith in Christ Jesus. There are different challenges in nursing profession mostly as a Christian nurse one face more challenges but I am glad I have the solution to the challenges here

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