Archive for the ‘Spiritual Care’ Category

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.

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.

Spiritual Care Resources

February 24, 2017

2132017spiritualcarecardHow do you care for the spiritual needs of your patients? Knowing how to assess a person’s spiritual health and provide spiritual care interventions is part of caring for the whole person.

Care of the spirit, a hallmark of good nursing, is a high priority for Christian nurses. What is known about spirituality and spiritual care? How do we go about offering spiritual care?

Begin with a careful assessment using these questions:

  • Do you consider yourself to be spiritual or religious?
  • What importance does faith have in your life?
  • Are you part of a faith community?
  • What spiritual activities are important to you?
  • What sustains you and keep you going?
  • How would you like me to support your faith or address your needs?

Always remember to focus on the patient’s needs, not your own. Respect the patient’s views and support the person’s decision. Ask God to guide your care of patients and be attentive to his presence.

Find more resources on spiritual care, including a handy pocket-size spiritual care card that includes basic assessment questions and spiritual care interventions.

See the special JCN Collection of articles on Spirituality and Spiritual Care. These are free for NCF members and JCN subscribers or available for purchase. Learn from the Journal of Christian Nursing what researchers, patients, and other experts say makes for good spiritual care.

NCF Teaches Spiritual Care

September 8, 2016

882016fgraceFormer NCF Director Grace Wallace reminds us of the opportunities we have as Christian nurses to address the spiritual needs of patients with professional, compassionate care for the whole person.

I believe every person is created by God as a spiritual being who needs to know God, find life in him, and be nurtured in the growth process. As nurses, we can help, if we are alert to that spiritual dimension. Spiritual care is helping patients with their spiritual needs. It may be something we say or do directly, or it may be putting patients in touch with someone who can help.

When we listen to patients and care for them, often we establish rapport, and they would rather talk about spiritual concerns than other things during the few minutes we are with them. . . We can set a climate that lets patients know we are willing to talk about faith. The way we answer questions can encourage or discourage more discussion . . . If I am answering patients’ questions, I may be talking about my faith, but I’m not telling them to believe as I do.

Nursing students must learn that the first principle is to determine the patient’s primary need. Then provide the very best care you can. This means including spiritual assessment when you do physical and psycho-social assessment. Be sure to document what the patient said or asked related to his or her spiritual needs along with your other observations. With good evidences of spiritual need, you can demonstrate the appropriateness of intervention.

Grace Wallace, RN, MA
NCF Director 1968-1984

Excerpt from “Portrait of a Nurse,” Journal of Christian Nursing, ©1984 – Download in PDF and read the complete “Portrait of a Nurse” article.

Jesus as Our Role Model

August 1, 2016

812016womanatwellAs Christian nurses, we have Jesus as our source of strength and role model. I love how Jesus sees all of us from the perspective of God’s Kingdom. This perspective teaches us how to see and think about people and thus how to care for patients and their families and collaborate with our co-workers.

We read about Jesus who met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-26. Jesus sees the woman and knows who she is; still he decides to spend time with her. As we read the text, we can sense the gentleness and the intensity of their conversation, and how Jesus touches her deeply in her spirit. She becomes convinced that she has met the long-awaited Messiah. This makes her a witness for Christ.

In Luke 19:1-10 we read about Zacchaeus up in a tree. Again, Jesus acts beyond the rules and norms and sees to the heart and longing of this man. He greets Zacchaeus in the tree and invites himself to dinner with him. This transforms Zacchaeus. Jesus acknowledges this sinner to be a saved son of Abraham, and Zacchaeus’ transformed heart shows itself in action.

One of the stories I like the best from the gospels is about the blind beggar outside of Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Try to imagine the crowd of people and all the noise. In the middle of this, Jesus recognizes the one who needs him. He stops and asks this wonderful question: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Have you noticed that Jesus often asks questions when he teaches and meets with people? He is interested in understanding people—who they are and how they think. Having Jesus as our role model challenges us to consider these questions: Am I interested in understanding people? Do I take the time to stop and listen to people in my path who may need me?

Will you join me in following Jesus’ example and practice this question: “What do you want me to do for you?” I’m interested in hearing about your experiences from using this question. Please share your comments below.

Tove Giske
President, Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI)

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Photo credit by Angelica Kauffman – Upload 1: repro from art bookUpload 2: Own Work, photo taken by Cybershot800i., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8988425

Spiritual Care of Veterans

May 28, 2016

5282016memorialdayOn Memorial Day we remember our fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. As nurses, what can we do to care for veterans who need ongoing physical, emotional and spiritual care today?

Over a million veterans seek mental healthcare through the Veterans Administration (VHA) every year. Many voice challenges to their spiritual beliefs, especially after deployment. Research supports that integrating spiritual care into mental health interventions improves the ability of veterans to cope.

Mental health practitioners are key to incorporating spirituality into the mental healthcare of veterans, as well as collaborating with VHA chaplains. They are in prime positions to address spiritual needs, such as the need for hope, love and belonging, forgiveness, life purpose and meaning.

“Through spiritual care, mental health practitioners have the opportunity to remind veterans of the omnipotent God, who is the protector and rescuer,” writes Stephanie T. Wynn in her article, “After the Trenches: Spiritual Care of Veterans,” from Journal of Christian Nursing, Oct-Dec 2015.

“During the battle, God is always with us. God wants to be our liberator, whether we are in or out of the trenches,” Stephanie adds. “And he wants to use healthcare providers to spiritually assist those caught in the trenches to rediscover meaning and purpose in life.”

As we remember those in the military who have died, let us care holistically for those who are living.

Read more of Stephanie Wynn’s article in JCN.

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This article in Journal of Christian Nursing was recently honored with a GOLD Award for Best Opening Page or Spread: Photo, presented by the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE).

Talking about Spirituality in Nursing School

April 25, 2016

4252016marylI am a nursing student at a Catholic-Jesuit university, so spirituality is integrated throughout our nursing curriculum. However, we do not have a space to reflect on how to have spiritual conversations with patients or how to process our clinical experiences from a spiritual perspective.

This semester, I felt called to initiate a spiritual reflection group for nursing students. Olivia, my InterVarsity staff mentor, helped me prepare and plan. Then I threw the idea out there with an email to my nursing class.

I was anxious to see how God would move people to respond. Two students showed up at the first meeting in February and we connected immediately over great conversations. One of my roommates listened in and I was so glad to share some of my faith with her.

At our second meeting I was amazed to see eight students and two grad students show up, plus I received many emails and questions the following morning about how our meeting went. We had such an amazing time of conversation and community. We talked about spiritual conversations with patients in our clinical assignments. We also discussed the importance of meeting our own spiritual needs, in addition to being there for patients.

Planting Seeds

I was so moved by how I felt the presence of God at the meeting. I was excited to have such open and meaningful conversation with my peers whom I had only known in the classroom setting before the meeting. This is only the beginning of seeds being planted in the lives of nursing students on my campus.

My vision for starting an NCF group began in December at the Urbana Missions Conference. I was unsure of what God had in store for me, but I left challenged and inspired to start something new for God in my school of nursing.

At Urbana, I heard from so many powerful speakers and seminar leaders who really challenged me to courageously share my faith with others and step out of my comfort zone.

I was also excited to learn about Nurses Christian Fellowship for the first time. At Urbana I met amazing NCF leaders who encouraged me with their personal stories. I heard testimonies from other students who had experienced similar feelings and went on to lead nursing students on their campuses.

I reflected on the way I had been living my life and wanted to make a change by reaching out to students who were my friends, but they didn’t know the most important thing about me. I didn’t have the courage to share my faith with them. After attending Urbana, I strongly felt God calling me to start an NCF group on Boston College’s campus.

I am grateful to God for our group of 5-10 nursing students who have started NCF ministry this semester, and I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College!

–Mary Ladesic, nursing student

Lessons from the Infusion Room

February 3, 2015

IV Drip“I’ve been an Infusion Room regular for over seven years. It’s like a local coffee shop, only with needles, tubes, and dangling fluid bags,” writes David Kenagy in the Journal of Christian Nursing. “People who need medications pumped into their bloodstreams gather here, but not as hungry diners. Some have nerve disease, others arthritis, and some cancer. Folks in this room understand affliction.”

Enter Nurse Laura.

“Terrific” is the word used by other nurses and patients alike to describe Nurse Laura. What makes her so unique, so universally appreciated?

David Kenagy writes in raw detail how Nurse Laura not only provides compassionate nursing care, but uses her skills to initiate honest conversations with patients about physical and emotional difficulties.

“Nursing care means caring enough to talk toilet. It means Love your neighbor as yourself. It knows, Perfect love casts out fear,” writes Kenagy.

And for some, Nurse Laura is faithful until the end, when the nursing plan is simply being there. She is there for the patient. She is there for the families – sometimes grieving parents. It is the ministry of presence. It is communicating love, and caring, and importance at life’s most significant moments.

It is Essential Nursing 101. And few do it better than Nurse Laura.

Read more about what makes Nurse Laura so special in David Kenagy’s article, “Lessons from the Infusion Room,” from the Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan-Mar 2015.

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Become a member of NCF and regularly receive the peer-reviewed Journal of Christian Nursing as one of your member benefits. Or, subscribe to JCN.

The Practice of Presence

July 28, 2014

Listening“I heard a commotion and found one of my patients screaming, banging doors, and hitting walls,” recalls Kathy Schoonover Shoffner, PhD, RN, during a recent shift.

Nursing experiences like this reminded Kathy of the immeasurable importance of offering presence to patients. She listened with full, undivided caring attention and asked simple reflective questions to calm the patient and address her needs.

“People just want to know we care,” Kathy confirms. “Our patients desperately want to be heard, to know we will help them. Offering true caring turns everything around.”

How do you care for patients under pressure? What strategies do you employ when you are stressed?

“Jesus is the supreme example of grace under pressure,” Kathy offers. “Even when he was arrested and knew he was to be crucified, Jesus cared for others.” His example is worth remembering the next time you feel pressure mounting.

Read more of Kathy’s editorial, “Caring Under Pressure,” in the Journal of Christian Nursing, July –September 2014.  Join NCF and receive every issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Christian Nursing as one of your member benefits. Or, subscribe to JCN.

Seeds of Hope

March 6, 2014

SproutsInviting nursing students to talk about the spiritual needs of patients – and themselves – is a challenge. Recently I gave a presentation on spiritual care to all of the senior nursing students at the University of Illinois. One student responded boldly, “I would rather ask my patients about their bowel movements than about their spiritual needs.”

I was thankful for his honesty. As part of the workshop I led on “Caring for the Spiritual Needs of Our Patients,” students asked each other what gave them strength and what they believed in. One student responded, “I believe in myself. I rely on myself and I also believe in science.”

This student is probably not the only one who puts his hope in himself and in his own ability to get through any situation. I was reminded of the need for these students to have a personal experience with God and to see Jesus’ character reflected in the lives of Christian friends.

We discussed how spiritual needs are foundational in life: the need for love, for hope, for forgiveness, and for meaning and purpose. I asked students to describe a patient they had cared for who had a spiritual need. One student shared that she had taken care of a pastor over the summer who was waiting for an organ transplant. He was very hopeful at the beginning of the summer but, as the months wore on, she could tell that he was losing hope. Thankfully, he was able to have the surgery before it was too late. He later shared with this student how he had really been close to losing all hope. He had a strong belief in God and God’s faithfulness, and yet it was difficult for him to hold on to hope when his circumstances were dire.

One of the nursing interventions that can be used to meet the spiritual need for hope is “Hope Inspiration.” This involves:

  • assisting patient and family to identify areas of hope in life
  • expand the patient’s repertoire of coping mechanisms
  • involve the patient actively in own care
  • create an environment that facilitates patient practicing religion, as appropriate
  • demonstrate hope by recognizing the patient’s intrinsic worth and viewing the patient’s illness as only one facet of the individual.

She saw first-hand how hope and faith played a part in the pastor’s strength, even though at times his situation made hoping much harder.

As I left the classroom at the end of the seminar, I felt like the farmer who scattered seed on different types of soil. I don’t know what each student heard and retained throughout the class, but I shared what I thought would help and challenge them to grow in their own spiritual lives.

I am praying that God will reveal himself to these students in tangible ways and they will realize that “believing in myself” will not last. They need the strength and hope that comes only through journeying each day with Jesus.

–by Renee Lick, Director of NCF Student Ministries