Challenges of Nursing in Cuba : Journal of Christian Nursing

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Department: NCFI Your Global Connection

Challenges of Nursing in Cuba

López∗, Lisandra; García,∗, Xiomara translated by Martha Graciela Fernandez Moyano

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doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000989
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Being a Christian nurse in Cuba is challenging. Barriers include restrictions regarding sharing God's Word. Pastors are considered governmental opponents and have been prevented access to patient rooms. Not so with nurses. These professional caregivers follow the appropriate rules for spiritual care but act as God's instruments in the healthcare setting. Nurses are a natural bridge for communicating to patients and families God's love and care. In some settings, nurses have more or less freedom to speak of their faith.

When possible and as time allows, nurses willingly share with patients or families who want to hear more. In one setting, a nurse who works in a hospital ward is affectionately known as a “Sister of the Faith.” She believes that, despite opposition, God uses her as an instrument, acting as a bridge to the entrance of the Word of God for patients and families. Although many religious traditions are practiced in Cuba, most people are open to God's Word and prayer. Some directly request prayers, whereas others express interest. As is common elsewhere, some people are more open to conversation regarding spiritual or religious matters. We've found that Christian nurses are ready to address faith issues and are concerned for the spiritual needs of their patients. God makes a way possible despite the obstacles; for with God, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26).

A CHALLENGING CAREER

The majority who study nursing in Cuba are women; very few men are nurses. Most nurses work in public hospitals, polyclinics, and medical offices. Cuba does not have private clinics.

Nurses' salaries are not in accordance with the way of life and the price of goods. The highest salary for a nurse is 4,800 Cuban pesos monthly (about $200 U.S. dollars)—this is for a nurse with a master's degree or similar degree. Compare that to the cost of shoes at 3,000 to 4,000 pesos.

The Internet in the country is quite bad and expensive. People communicate through mobile phones; we do not have Internet at home to be able to connect through computers. But we believers are blessed with the (economic) help of our churches. Many nurses who practice other religions do not have this blessing and work a lot to support their families. Also, patients who profess another religion may ask us to pray for them and that is a great joy. There are nursing sisters who have said that patients have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, as well as their families, and that is a great joy for us.

GROWTH AND FRUIT

Professional development is limited as foreign conference speakers and teachers are not allowed into Cuba. In addition to COVID restrictions, Christian conferences have been canceled by travel and visa limitations. Pastors face investigation. Despite circumstances, God is able to accomplish his work. Isaiah wrote, “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27, NIV).

One of the fruits of training in the Union of Evangelical Missionary Nurses of Cuba (UEMEC), the NCFI ministry in Cuba, is the younger leaders who are emerging. These upcoming leaders are empowering other nurses in UEMEC ministry and working with the new generation of nurses. They are stepping into leadership positions in churches and working with established leaders to teach prevention and care of various diseases.

Main achievements of UEMEC to date include the creation of nursing scholarships, three nursing conferences with good participation by nurses locally and from other Latin American countries, a national newsletter, and legal recognition before the Cuban Ministry of Justice. Our theme verse is Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (NIV).

With the sword of the Spirit, which is God's Word, and the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:10-18), we are going to emerge victorious. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship