In this issue we are presenting the first installment of a new column called, The Cutting Edge – Where Principle Meets Practice. The purpose is to demonstrate Christian faith in action, to encourage fellow pilgrims on life’s journey and challenge young Christians to focus their vision and energy on a life which produces fruit for the Master’s use. We will be happy to receive suggestions for writers from our readers. – The Editors
“You did not choose me but I chose you to bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:16)
The above text was the theme of the address given at my graduation from nursing school. Throughout my life on many occasions I serve as a mentor, particularly to the nursing career this has been an inspiration and a graduate nurse. The transition from student to staff nurse is motivating factor for me.
My career choice was influenced by my mother, a nurse. Her Christian example and lifestyle were an inspiration to me from early childhood. I still remember her enthusiasm as she shared many of her caring experiences with me. I discovered that I too enjoyed working with people and helping those in need.
The majority of my nursing focus has been in critical care, first as a staff nurse, later as a head nurse and currently as nurse educator.
As a staff nurse and head nurse, I was in close contact with patients and their families, observing the suffering associated with their illness, pain, despair, hopelessness and death. Often the nurse becomes the object of their frustration and anger.
One instance vividly etched in my mind is that of a young man whose injury resulted in quadriplegia. This was lifes-hattering for him and his family. The family was unable to accept this diagnosis and made it very difficult for me and other staff members. With understanding, love and compassion we supported them, In time they accepted the diagnosis. Understanding God’s will for their lives, they continue to lovingly care for their son. What began as a difficult situation matured into a meaningful relationship which still exists today.
Another experience involved a young man hospitalized following a severe leg injury. Because of complications the decision was made to amputate his limb. I’ll never forget that night. This was heart-rending, but the patient and his family had a strong faith in God and experienced His peace. The surgeon was also a Christian and together we prayed with them and supported them during this crisis. Following recovery he was fitted with a prosthesis and is living a productive life.
It is rewarding to see a person awaken from coma breathe without the aid or a ventilator, recover and return to their home. But permanent disability, limitations and death are a frequent reality. Showing Christ’s love at such a time is the essence of nursing.
Having cared for so many patients and their families during crisis, I often wondered how would react if I or a member of my family were a patient in critical care. A few years ago my mother was hospitalized. For six weeks we watched and waited as her condition deteriorated and eventually ended in death. Our family experienced the love of Christ as staff ministered to her and to us. Never were the words from Matthew 11:28 more meaningful: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” God’s grace was sufficient.
An important responsibility of a nurse is that of being a role model and mentor. As a role model I attempt to treat others fairly and maintain a cheerful positive attitude. I also emphasize the importance of looking beyond the tubes, monitors and ventilators. There is a danger of becoming too involved in all the modern technology. Competent skills are crucial, but we must never lose sight of the patient for whom we are caring. Recently a colleague shared with me the that that her decision to become a nurse came after she observed my caring for her mother during her illness and eventual death. In humility as God’s servant, I accepted this as a rewarding compliment.
On many occasions I serve as a mentor, particularly to the graduate nurse. The transition from student to staff nurse is one of reality shock. As one graduate nurse tearfully remarked, “Nursing school did not prepare me for this.” She needed a listening ear, much understanding and encouragement which I was privileged to provide. She is now mentoring others. Would I pursue the same career again? Yes.
Would I encourage young people to choose nursing as a career? Yes I would. We need Christian nurses who wish to be channels of the power of God in the lives of others.
This is especially true in the day of a changing profession, ethical issues, difficult decisions and shifting values. Nursing is not exempt from the influence of the New Age. At a recent conference, the facilitator began the session by demonstrating how to bow to the power of our personhood within us. She invited us to do the same. Then she asked where our power came from. One participant responded that her power came from the Lord. I was happy to support her, stating that it is the Holy Spirit within me who gives me power. Obviously this was not the answer the facilitator expected. She did not pursue the issue. We as Christian nurses must remain strong in the midst of these competing forces, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Nursing involves commitment. Fulfilling my commitment to nursing has been possible because of my Christian faith and the love and support of colleagues, friends and family. It has shaped my vision of nursing as a caring profession. I thank God for the talents he has given me, and my prayer is that I may continue to use them for His glory.
Miss Kathleen Pasma graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. She is a licensed registered nurse in the state of Michigan and is employed by Saint Mary’s Health Services in Grand Rapids, MI, as Nurse Educator for the Critical care Complex. She is a member of the First CRC of Byron Center, MI.