What NCF Taught Me

July 25, 2017

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Just after Mary Berg Barkman graduated from nursing school 45 years ago, she attended her first conference with Nurses Christian Fellowship. It was the first time she received training on caring for the spiritual needs of her patients.

“I grew up in the church but was hungry for how to integrate faith with nursing,” Mary recalls. Mary later joined the NCF staff team to encourage and equip nurses and nursing students to deepen their relationship with God.

Over the years, Mary has learned that being in a care-giving profession and learning to have balance in life is essential. Today Mary continues to appreciate what NCF contributes to the profession of nursing by offering a Christian viewpoint on ethical issues, suffering, death and the spiritual care of patients.

 “Nurses who are Christians need help integrating their faith into their profession. Evangelism methods taught within churches are not appropriate for bedside nursing. Secular schools talk about religion, yet there may be obstacles to sharing faith,” Mary said. “Nurses need to know that when this is done within the context of the nursing process, it can be very appropriate.”

Mary has seen that a simple question, such as, what gives you strength to face this illness/crisis, can open a spiritual discussion and assessment of a patient’s needs, more than learning what church the person belongs to. “We know that church affiliation doesn’t tell you about spiritual practice.”

Knowing how to assess a person’s spiritual health and give appropriate spiritual care is a hallmark of good nursing.

See NCF spiritual care resources.

Minding the Gap

July 24, 2017

Faith Community Nurses (FCNs), or Parish Nurses, are meeting growing needs in healthcare.

Recently a Lutheran church in Stoughton, Wisconsin, celebrated the five-year anniversary of their Parish Nurse Ministry. They had identified a gap in care that affected many in their congregation. Sue, a church member who is a nurse, developed the role of Parish Nurse to ease this disparity.

Parish nursing epitomizes the love described in John 15:12 through serving and engaging others in the ministries of health, help and healing based in love. Caring for one’s own health is a matter of human necessity and good stewardship. Caring for the health of others expresses both love for our neighbor and responsibility for a just society. As a personal and social responsibility, health care is a shared endeavor.

Affectionately, Sue defines parish nursing for her church as “minding the gap” by helping people who fall within a gap when needs are unmet—whether it is lack of access to needed aid or the inability to identify basic needs and services.

Sue believes that a sense of community is the heart and soul of parish nursing. Combining her nurse and life experiences, Sue connects the need of the parishioner with needed resources. This may be physical (accompanying clients and advocating for them in the clinical setting), mental (attending to the isolated and transitionally challenged), or spiritual (listening to the Holy Spirit and connecting with pastoral support). There is balance that is brought to the care and attention of all three of these areas. If one area is lacking, eventually the balance is thrown off. It is the restoration of this balance that a parish nurse can assist individuals in obtaining. This process of restoration is a journey.

One memorable experience came when Sue met a local man who had lost an arm in an accident years earlier and needed to administer eye drops three times per day. This posed a challenge for him. Sue began stopping by to dispense the medication, but then engaged others within the community who wanted to help. It was heartwarming to see local people from different backgrounds, faith communities, and work responsibilities come together to lend aid.

As a parish nurse, Sue’s most rewarding effort has come through the healing that occurs during the “Longest Night” service. Held just before Christmas on the Winter Solstice (shortest day of the year), this church service focuses on welcoming anyone in the community who is grieving any type of loss, such as loss of a loved one, a job, or a health condition. Through this ecumenical service, people with painful losses are supported and their pain is acknowledged.

Keeping healthy boundaries both for the parish nurse and those in need can be challenging, yet necessary. “It’s important to know when a request is simply too great to fulfill,” Sue said. “Knowing when to help rather than when to refer someone elsewhere is difficult but still serves a vital need of education and communication. It’s tempting to want to be able to help everyone; however, that is simply not possible. The key is to connect the individual to local resources if they don’t know about them.”

What are the needs in your faith community that concern you as a nurse? Is God nudging you, like Sue, to do something about it?

Read more articles about Faith Community/Parish Nursing and get CE credits from Journal of Christian Nursing.

How NCF Student Chapters Are Changing Lives

June 23, 2017

6232017students.jpgNursing students are immersed in rigorous academic and clinical demands. In the relentless pressure-cooker of nursing school, NCF chapters provide authentic faith communities that encourage, equip, and empower students to be followers of Jesus in life and nursing.

How does this happen? These comments from chapter leaders demonstrate the impact of the NCF community on some of the nursing students involved this year:

  • “NCF is a place where people feel they belong. We all share in the difficulties and joys of nursing school. The barriers of class status are broken and we are all one. I appreciate how the older students mentor the new students. It’s a time when we all step away from the busyness of school to take a breath and be reminded of God’s love and goodness.” – Student Leader (MI)
  • “We provide moral support and prayer for each other. NCF keeps its members centered on Christ and growing in his truth during this stressful time in our lives.” – Student Leader (FL)
  • “Students in our chapter grew closer and built deep relationships for support, spiritual encouragement, and accountability. Our weekly Bible studies taught us how to apply the Gospel to our school work, lives, and nursing practice. Visiting RNs from the community helped us learn how to share our faith in practice and serve God in our care.” – Student Leader (IA)
  • “We got to know each other by sharing our highs and lows each week. We studied and discussed God’s Word and prayed for one another.” – Student Leader (PA)
  • “Initiating an NCF chapter gives the students a forum to discuss the challenges of their program and how they can apply their faith to help them through those challenges. NCF provides hope and a support system.” – Faculty Advisor (IL)
  • NCF provides a support system for us and encourages us to live out the word of God in both the classroom and clinical setting. We urged each other to step out of our comfort zone to share our faith with classmates and engage in community outreach. – Student Leader (TX)
  • This year we focused on the faithfulness of God which instilled peace in the students, especially during exam time. It also opened conversations about how we can pursue a deeper relationship with God and trust in him more. – Student Leader (NY)
  • Our meetings gave students an opportunity to worship, share concerns, and learn new ways to pray and connect with God through activities that corresponded with the NCF Bible studies we used. – Faculty Advisor (PA)

We thank God for growth in student ministry this year. We witnessed a 14% increase in the number of students (1,862) who are meeting Jesus and learning how to follow him in nursing. Rejoice with us that 46 nursing students committed their lives to Jesus!

Today’s students will be the hands and feet of Jesus as tomorrow’s nurses. When we invest in the spiritual development of nursing students, they are more prepared to identify spiritual needs and offer holistic care to patients throughout their nursing practice–an investment with eternal dividends.

Please partner with what God is doing to change the lives of nursing students with a financial gift to NCF Student Ministry.

Empowering Nursing Students

June 22, 2017

6222017nsgschoolOur vision for NCF Student Ministries is for nursing students and faculty to be encouraged, equipped, and empowered. But what does it mean for students and faculty to be empowered?

First, NCF student chapters empower nursing students to share their faith with their classmates. Think back to nursing school. Remember how you and your classmates together crammed for exams, engaged in simulations, and commuted (exhausted) for clinicals? Nursing programs bond students; they live and breathe nursing with each other.

Because of this bond, Christian nursing students have unique relational opportunities to talk about their faith with their classmates. NCF chapters empower students by providing concrete principles and tools to share their faith.

Second, NCF student chapters empower nursing students to become leaders for God’s Kingdom on campus. Most NCF chapters are student-led. Thus, students receive leadership training on how to lead a Bible study or how to present the gospel. Through these leadership experiences, NCF student leaders will become Christian leaders in every sphere of life—professionally, with family, at church, and in their community.

Will you pray for the nursing students and student leaders in our 100+ chapters? Ask God to give them the courage to share their faith in nursing school!

–by Tim Lin, NCF Student Ministries Director

Florence Nightingale’s Very Ordinary Ability

May 12, 2017

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Florence Nightingale said, “If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.”

Nothing? That’s a humble assessment from the founder of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale transformed nursing practice through her faithful devotion to God who made it all possible. This leads every nurse to ask, how can I use my “very ordinary ability” in the path God has put before me?

As we celebrate our founder’s birthday on May 12 through National Nurses Week, may you find ways to follow her example and take advantage of the opportunities God has given you to express his love and grace to your peers and co-workers.

Who knows what God can do with your “very ordinary ability?”

Join NCF before May 31, 2017 with a 25% discount. Use promo code nnw2017 at checkout.

Hormones, Health and God

May 9, 2017

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It’s often cold in Minnesota but “Hormones, Health and God” was a hot topic at an April seminar sponsored by NCF Twin Cities and Hosanna Church Called to Care Nurses.

There were 65 nurses, students and other health care professionals who attended the gathering April 22. The guest speaker was Dr. Elizabeth Haglind, an endocrinologist who talked about health as personal wholeness and the integration of body, mind and spirit to create well-being.

Dr. Haglind presented information on the thyroid gland which has significant influence on physical and emotional health. The seminar focused on how the thyroid functions, how thyroid dysfunction affects body weight, and how to promote wellness personally and professionally.

Dr. Haglind also talked about the importance of spiritual care by looking at the prayers of Jesus in the garden before his death and his suffering on the cross when he cried out in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” She spoke of the anguish of people in suffering who may be wailing and raging from grief.

As nurses, how do we learn to listen in silence while people pour out their pain and despair? Elizabeth encouraged participants to view them from the foot of the cross, as we also see Jesus pouring out his physical and spiritual agony in the crucifixion.

And when the time is right, we offer ongoing comfort and prayer.

“Elizabeth’s presentation was very significant for me,” said Mary Thompson, former NCF national director. “It was timely and applicable as I thought of a friend who is suffering terribly right now. These insights will help me care for her as a representative of Jesus.”

Participants enjoyed connecting with each other as Christians in nursing. They also had opportunities to join the NCF professional network and purchase books from InterVarsity Press.

The seminar closed with a time of reflection led by Karen Greseth, RN, seminar coordinator. While worship music played the background, Karen read biblical exhortations about caring for “the least” among us, illustrated with pictures in a Power Point.

“Karen prayed us out to care for people in Jesus’ name,” reports Mary Thompson. “It was a fitting conclusion to a special day together.”

The next event for the Twin Cities NCF chapter will be Tuesday, June 6, at Stadium Village Church in Minneapolis.

Journal of Christian Nursing Wins 4 Awards

May 5, 2017

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Good news just arrived for JCN! For the third year in a row, Journal of Christian Nursing made a very impressive showing in the annual awards competition for the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASPHE).

“I am most excited that our editorial content won an award for Best Feature Article for the second year in a row!” said Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, JCN Editor-in-Chief and NCF Director.

“God brings good ideas in manuscripts and gives us the wisdom to edit and prepare articles to present solid biblical, clinical, and professional content.”

“Furthermore, we have an amazing graphic designer at Lippincott,” Kathy adds. “Our designer says she loves working with us because we give her great ideas and then let her be creative.”

JCN won four awards – three for design and one for content:

  • Gold Award in the Best Opening Page/Spread: Photo Category
    When Sorrow Never Stops: Chronic Sorrow After the Death of a Child (January/March 2016)
  • Silver Award in the Best Cover: Illustration Category
    Teen Depression and Suicide: A Silent Crisis (April/June 2016)
  • Bronze Award in the Best Feature Article Category
    Teen Depression and Suicide: A Silent Crisis (April/June 2016)
  • Bronze Award in the Best Cover: Photo Category
    Trauma-Informed Care: Helping Patients with a Painful Past (October/December 2016)

In announcing the awards, Kathy received this word of praise from Julie Rempfer, Associate Publisher at Wolters Kluwer: “These awards are a testament to your creative and editorial genius as well as all the hard work that goes into the journal.”

Congratulations also flowed from InterVarsity coworkers who highly value the ministry partnership of NCF among nurses, students and nurse educators. “These awards represent public affirmation of the excellence of NCF and its commitment to the healthcare profession and to culture-making for the kingdom of God,” said Jason Thomas, Chief Campus Ministry Officer for InterVarsity.

We strive to honor God in all we do,” said Kathy, “and these awards are an affirmation among our peers in healthcare publishing. We are tremendously honored by this recognition.”


Become a member of NCF and regularly receive Journal of Christian Nursing as one of your member benefits, or subscribe to JCN. Take advantage of the May Membership Special and join NCF at a discounted rate using Promo Code nnw2017. Offer expires May 31, 2017.

 

Join NCF with 25% Discount

May 1, 2017

4memspecialNational Nurses Week starts May 6, but you can celebrate your special role as a Christian nurse all year long! Become an annual member of Nurses Christian Fellowship in May and get a 25% discount on membership fees. As an NCF member, you’ll receive the Journal of Christian Nursing throughout the year, along with other benefits.

When you join NCF, you’ll be part of a large network of Christian nurses who are devoted to serving God in healthcare. Member fees are modest compared to other professional organizations.

Take advantage of the MAY Membership Discount and join NCF with a special 25% discount offer during May 1-31, 2017. At checkout, use discount code nnw2017. Current members are also encouraged to renew at a discounted rate.

Member benefits include the Journal of Christian Nursing which offers a vital blend of clinical excellence with a Christian perspective on healthcare. Members also receive significant discounts on CE credits through JCN and NursingCenter.com.

NCF membership demonstrates a commitment to both your faith and your profession. Find out more about NCF membership and be a part of our mission to engage nursing students and nurses with the healing love of Jesus.

The Challenge of Loving Ourselves

April 27, 2017

4272017relaxNurses have a tough balancing act. In a demanding profession, we struggle to care for ourselves as we care for others.

The American Nurses Association recognizes this challenge with this year’s theme for National Nurses Week, “Nursing, The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit.”

For Christian nurses, this theme is deeply imbedded in Scripture. Nurses Christian Fellowship has created a Bible study that addresses the balance of mind, body and spirit from a biblical viewpoint. We encourage you to reflect on this passage in your devotional time this week. Consider inviting your nursing friends and coworkers to a Bible discussion on balance in nursing using the questions provided.

In Luke 10:25-28, we read a story about a man who comes to Jesus with a question about eternal life. Jesus endorsed the man’s biblical understanding that we are to love God, love others, and love ourselves. But Jesus responds with an expanded meaning of what it means to have a healthy life. “Do this, and you will live.”

The man in the story didn’t like Jesus’ answer. We don’t, either. And here is the problem. We know what we should do to be healthy, but it’s not that easy. We all have behaviors, habits and temptations that contribute to an unhealthy life.

Sometimes it’s easier to love God and love others than it is to love ourselves. If we truly loved ourselves in body, mind and spirit, how might this contribute to better health? How can we find a better balance in our lives and take care of ourselves so that we have more to give God and others?

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this challenging topic. Please email NCF with your comments or insights.

ANA has provided a powerful kernel of truth that is amplified by God’s Word to us. NCF nurses, students and educators have an open door to explore what this means for themselves and their nurse friends and coworkers during Nurses Week.

The Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit

April 21, 2017

4212017nnw17National Nurses Week is around the corner and this year’s theme, “Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit,” provides natural opportunities for Christian nurses to invite others to consider God’s view of holistic health.

Here are some tips and resources for you to take advantage of this special week and encourage nurse friends and colleagues in their faith and nursing practice.

Nurses Week Bible Discussion

We’ve created a special Bible study on this year’s theme to download and use for a group study or personal devotional. Invite your nurse friends and coworkers to explore how Jesus defined health in body, mind and spirit. We offer this Scriptural meditation for your reflection on what it means to love God, love others, and love yourself.

NCF Resources

See all the special resources, prayer guides, and promotional materials for ideas on how to maximize Nurses Week and reach out to others.

Events

Some NCF nurse groups are hosting gatherings in their area. Check out these NCF events and pray that people will be drawn to the living God and healthier lives through these special gatherings.

Your Thoughts on the Theme?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you find balance in mind, body and spirit. This is a significant topic that is an ongoing challenge for many of us, and you can email NCF with your comments or insights on this important topic in nursing.

Thank you, ANA, for choosing a theme that is dear to the heart of God!