Rachel Fulton is a level 4 undergraduate nursing student from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Melinda Hermanns, PhD, RN, BC, Assistant Professor, Course and Clinical Coordinator, teaches psychiatric mental health nursing at UTT and graduate nursing education at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Lori Greer, MSN, RN, is a Clinical Instructor and teaches psychiatric mental health and health assessment at the University of Texas at Tyler.
As nurse educators, we serve as role models by setting an example for our students. Our aim is to expose students to specific experiences for learning how to care for patients with a holistic approach. As nursing faculty, we strive to emulate holistic care, we walk by faith, not by sight, knowing it is God's grace that makes us better nurses, teachers, and helps us in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Through God's infinite mercy and grace, he guides us in our spiritual and educational journeys so we may emulate the importance of the spiritual. We advocate that nurses cannot treat just the body; rather nurses need to treat mind, body, and spirit.
In our program, students are encouraged to reflect on their clinical experiences through a process of self-awareness and journaling. Rachel's excerpt is an excellent example of her spiritual walk with God, his grace that assisted her through her mental health clinical rotation, and how her instructor served as a godly role model to impart holistic care.
During my mental health clinical, the Lord softened my heart and showed me exactly what it means to experience his grace. I met several patients I will never forget and will continue to pray for, but one in particular brought me to my knees before our great God.
While our clinical group was taking a tour at an inpatient psychiatric facility, I noticed one patient was constantly screaming. The screams were so loud, almost painful. The nurse conducting the tour nonchalantly said, "Some of these patients scream day and night, tortured by the voices and what they see." We walked on, but what that nurse said left a startling impression on me. The reality struck me: Only by the grace of God am I not that patient.
I have often thought of this patient and others like him. I could very easily be this person; there is nothing in this world keeping you or me from being this person, nothing but the grace of God.
Romans 5:12 reminds us that through one man, Adam, sin entered the world. Sin is accompanied by many kinds of suffering, mental illness being but one. Mental illness is not caused by a sin, but the result of the sin of one man. People are very quick to dub mentally ill patients as "crazy" or even go so far as to say, "They must have done something to cause this." We are not to judge but only to recognize the suffering brought by sin.
My instructor was quite a role model during that clinical rotation. She had a passion for this area of nursing, and was endlessly compassionate and understanding. She was a wonderful role model of how to conduct ourselves with these patients. Her Christian attitude was what inspired me the most. She never acted repulsed or like these patients were "just crazy" as I heard other students comment. If I had to pick a role model I've had throughout the course of my study, it would be this instructor.
I hope to be a nurse who advocates for patients; because I know I could be that patient. I hope to be a nurse who serves those who are overlooked or misunderstood (Matthew 25:40). Above all, I hope to be a nurse who serves the Great Physician. If I can always keep in the forefront of my mind that it is only by the grace of God I am what I am (1 Corinthians 15:10), then serving others will be a joy and service to him.
Rachel's account vividly paints the picture of how we are to educate our students and care for our patients. We role model holistic care as faculty and we are able to set a stage for our students to learn. We are thankful for our students and honored to be a part of their preparation for professional nursing. It is by the grace of God we are able to facilitate their learning through role modeling the importance of the whole person: body, mind, and spirit.