Nursing work environments have long been cited as among the most arduous for all types of work and settings. Nurses face extraordinary challenges as we work in hospitals, skilled care facilities, ambulatory care sites, industries, schools and homes. These challenges are exacerbated by the mounting shortage of nurses, growing economic constraints, advances in technologies and the corporatization of health care. Not surprisingly, the American Hospital Association reports that in the last twenty years, working in the health care sector has changed from a favored to less favored place for employment.1
What is being done to create favorable work environments that support (as opposed to hinder) nursing practice? Nursing organizations are defining and ardently promoting activities to improve the workplace: excellence in leadership; competent nursing staff; quality patient care; preceptoring; interdisciplinary collaboration; differentiated nursing practice based on experience, education, specialty certification and professional excellence; and closing ethics gaps in administration, organization and practice.2,3
Interestingly, God has always known what makes for first-rate work environments. Thousands of years ago he spelled out the original standards and conditions for workplace excellence, offering comprehensive plans for management and organization of the temple, daily living and the work life of the Israelites. An additional mind-boggling detail is that following his directives assured his people of limitless resources.You can find Bible references for God's total quality management plan at www.ncf-jcn.org/jcn/archive/04fa/04fa_ksp3.html.
You may be wondering if God's organizational blueprints were just for Bible times or if his plans are still applicable in today's complex, ailing health care system. And if his policies and procedures are still effective, how can nurses in practice, administration and education begin following his guidelines? In this issue of JCN you'll find thoughtful answers to these questions. Authors Pam Price-Hoskins and Susan Salladay help us understand how humanistic thinking has pervaded health care and nursing, explain the difference between humanistic and God-driven thought and action, and help us grasp the damaging implications of humanistic practice. Marilyn Anderson and Hilreth Lanig dare to suggest that in difficult—even downright distasteful—work environments, Christians can have perfect peace. Not just occasional, mediocre, happenstance peace, but perfect peace. Patient-care nurse Karen Cavaleri discovered why God put her in an overwhelming work environment and how to respond to the crushing feelings that sometimes flood her. What she shares can profoundly influence your nursing practice.
Were God's limitless resources just for Bible times? I offer a resounding no after reading nurse manager Joni McCullom's story. God showed this modern-day servant and her co-manager, Cheryl, where the invisible and untapped resources existed to expand a 21 bed unit to 40 beds, drop staff vacancy rates from 38 to 6 percent, and decrease staff turnover to 3 percent—all in the midst of a nursing shortage. Marcena Walker, Skip McDonald and Jill DeHoog discovered God's model for best practices in mentoring. Janice Hurley and Susanne Mohnkern illumine possibilities for parish nurses to meet the complex and sometimes heart-wrenching needs of people in the church through psychoeducational support groups.
Believe it or not, everything we need for nursing is found in God and in his Word, the Bible. God has principles for living, mind-blowing ideas and amazing solutions to our complex, overwhelming problems (Eph 3:14–21). We can study God's Word and unearth these rich treasures. As we embrace and follow what we learn, we can be transformed and experience life—and nursing—to the fullest (Jn 10:10).
At JCN, we are working hard to provide you with imaginative resources to help you discover God's ways and tap into his resources. Take a careful look at the Table of Contents (now two pages!) and look for something you can use. Note the new Going Deeper resource for personal or group discussion and find valuable insights for your work in Practicing. Continuing education testing and full-text CNE articles are now available online. JCN continuing education is free to Nurses Christian Fellowship® members, so when you join NCF, you receive JCN every three months and the opportunity to earn one to three contact hours per issue at no additional cost. Go online at ncf-jcn.org to check out these benefits.
Finally, know we are praying for you, our readers, as you take on the daily challenges of work and ministry. Never forget that Christian nurses are God's people, doing God's work, for God's glory! —KSS
1 American Hospital Association, Workforce Supply for Hospitals and Health Systems: Issues and Recommendations
(Washington, DC: Price-Hoskins January 31, 2001).
2 American Association of Colleges of Nursing, AACN White Paper: Hallmarks of the Professional Nursing practice Environment
3 Mary Cipriano Silva, “Organizational and Administrative Ethics in Health Care: An Ethics Gap,” Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
(December. 31, 1998).