Share this article on:

What Is the Essence of Christian Nursing?

Dameron, Carrie M.

doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0b013e3181ee77d5
Department: NEW Christian Nursing 101

Carrie M. Dameron, MSN, RNBC, is an advanced certified medical-surgical nurse and has experience in spiritual care and education. She is Assistant Professor of nursing at Ohlone College in Fremont, California, and an on-call nurse for acute care hospitals in the Oakland area.



Welcome to Christian Nursing 101! JCN has always held Christ at the center of nursing. In Christian Nursing 101 we continue this mission by exploring the tenets of Christian faith and discovering applicable essential skills for our profession and practice.

Christians come to faith via different journeys, yet the beginning step is entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Christians are encouraged to read and study the life of Christ to apply his example and teachings to all aspects of life—including our profession. Bringing the person and teachings of Jesus to healthcare is challenging. Seeking truth through Jesus will always be an essential first step for the Christian nurse.

Another important part of Christian nursing is prayer. Living, vibrant communication with God is foundational to our spiritual well-being. Prayer is one means in which our relationship with Jesus matures and develops (Ephesians 1:17). For the Christian, prayer is a two-way blessed communication with a loving God and his children, a diversely defined resource for coping that includes belief in the God of the Bible. The personal use of Christian prayer needs to continually be brought to our nursing as the basis of our faith and the care we provide.

Nurses recognize the intricate connection of the body, mind, and spirit. Holistic nursing was started by early Christians who embarked on caring for the spirit while meeting physical and emotional needs. Biblical teachings remind us we have a spirit that needs to be redeemed (Romans 8:13–16), a body that will age, die, and be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:50–53), and a mind, though tempted, that can be disciplined (Romans 12:2). Today, the concept of holistic nursing is infused with multiple spiritual philosophies. New Age concepts of "energy" and "healer" can influence our thinking. A firm identity in Jesus Christ keeps our focus on the true healer—God, and differentiates "self" from becoming an existential source of greater works.

There are tenets of our faith that are uniquely Christian and applicable to nursing. One is the hope of eternal life through the power of Jesus and his resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18), and a restored, redeemed world (Isaiah 11; Revelation 21). This is our promise and a lived-out hope for today. As Christian nurses we rest confidently in such truth, and when appropriate, lovingly convey this to our patients.

Many of the fundamental skills of nursing are transformed when we evaluate skills through Christ's example and teachings. In therapeutic communication we learned how to listen, verbally reflect, and guide patient and family conversations. Add Christ's example of love and encouragement and see how therapeutic communication is an important part of Christian nursing. With the heart of Christ and the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit, our communication becomes more than just an intervention, but an opportunity for a hurting person to experience God through us.

Our own experience and view of nursing is changed when we see the profession of nursing as more than just a career or a means to financial goals. Through the biblical foundation we acknowledge, we work within the body of Christ for our patients, families, and coworkers. Our ideas of professional standards, ethics, and values take on a new light, charting a journey of service and thankfulness. On this journey we view networking and mentoring as more than a professional goal; we see it as partnering with Jesus in his eternal plan.

We are all on our own journey of faith. Christian Nursing 101 is a place to build faith and become better practitioners in applying Christ's work to nursing. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (NASB). Christ works in nurses for his good works. The patient who needs God's comfort, the unit that needs Christ-centered prayer, and the colleague who needs a loving shoulder are works prepared by God for us to do.

Christian Nursing 101 is a place for you to grow in your faith and practice, whether you are a new Christian nurse, a nurse new to the Christian faith, or an experienced Christian nurse. In each issue we'll address a tenet of Christian faith and assimilate it into our profession and practice—an essential skill of Christian nursing.

Copyright © 2010 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship