Nursing: A Healing Ministry
Jessica N. Gillespie
A Senior Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation in the Honors Program
Acceptance of Senior Honors Thesis
This Senior Honors Thesis is accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation from the
Honors Program of Liberty University.
Lynne Sanders, Ed.D., M.S.N., R.N.
Shanna Akers, R.N., M.S.N.
Donald Fowler, Ph.D.
Marilyn Gadomski, Ph.D.
Assistant Honors Director
Nursing is a profession that involves caring for people from all different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, races, and religions. The world is full of unique individuals. One unifying factor for all people is that everyone has needs. In nursing, most of the care needs are physical and psychosocial needs. However, each person has spiritual needs.
Nurses are expected to provide holistic care to their patients; thus the spiritual matters cannot be divorced from the physical and psychosocial ones. Since patients do need spiritual care, nurses have a unique opportunity to minister to these individuals. Nurses are also placed in a position that allows them to minister to the family and friends of their patients. Currently, some concerns focus on how nurses should care for spiritual needs.
There have also been some suggestions made toward improving spiritual care. This thesis will explore why nursing should be a ministry and how to minister best to patients.
Nursing: A Healing Ministry
The profession. The nursing profession encompasses the care of individuals who need medical attention for a variety of reasons. Many are physical; some are psychosocial. No matter what the reason that the patient has sought care, the nurse has the duty to treat the whole patient. Nursing takes on a holistic view of people. The whole person, including the body, mind and spirit, must be provided care (McSherry, 2006).
The whole is greater than the sum of all the parts. Treating, or neglecting to treat, one part will affect the other parts (Pedrao & Beresin, 2009).
Nursing is “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities and populations” (Laabs, 2008, p. 227). The role of the nurse is to protect and promote health. The ultimate goal is to prevent illness and injury. When that cannot be done, the nurse cares for the patient with the goal of returning the patient to health
Health has been defined as “wholeness, a unity and harmony of body, mind and spirit” (Miner-Williams, 2006, p. 817). According to this definition of health, a patient could have physical wellness and still not have health. Thus, the role of the nurse includes the care of the mind and spirit (Miner-Williams, 2006). When surveyed, the majority of nurses stated that they believe that they should provide spiritual care to their patients (Pedrao & Beresin, 2009). They see this as part of the holistic perspective of the nursing profession. Many nurses believe that the spirit is an integral part of the whole
patient; they see the need to assess the spiritual status of the patient and intervene when necessary (Pedrao & Beresin, 2009).
The background. Over the years, and through many social changes, the profession of nursing has parted from what it was at one time. Many individuals fail to realize that nursing has spiritual, even religious, roots. The early Christian Church was one of first