The spirituality of nursing practice

Why aren’t hospitals and places of healthcare more like churches?

One of the required readings I have assigned to my nursing students in the past was Matthew Fox’s (year)  “Recreation of Work”, where Fox examines the issue of how to create a working environment where one’s spiritual essence is honored. I think this book exemplifies is a lot of what we are talking about when look to move our sacred profession away from the domination of medicine and toward anNurse with Miracle sign autonomous practice of caring, supporting, and loving our patients as they take their healing journeys.

How is it that we find ourselves over-worked, tired, and unable to create change in our practices? I have explored our professional issues in depth in my two nursing shortage articles, but I still wonder how we end up nearly each and every one of us personally giving away our healing power as we succumb to the dominant model of allopathic care and cure. Many of us became nurses because we deeply yearned to care, love, and support healing or because we somehow know that this type of work can fundamentally bring us into a place of deeply shared meaning as we honor the spiritual healing process that suffering can bring about. Yet when we get out there in the world where healthcare happens, we find ourselves running from skill to skill, meeting all of the requirements the federal government and the organizing bodies require of us, while the folks we could be serving remain in a place of suffering or chaos.

Having worked as a Parish Nurse, I can clearly see how our origins, being based in religion and spiritual practices, are calling us back toward them. In my work as a Parish Nurse, I began a Reiki community and I was able to experience how healing happens outside of the traditional model of allopathic care. Other forms of touch are also healing, as is music.

That spiritual place, the on-ness of all is where I want to live in my nursing practice, and I have to wonder if there might be a group of us nurses who are willing and able to make this the lived experience of nursing practice? In hospice settings this can also be a reality, as sometimes our main job here is to listen or simply be present at the bedside.

When Jean Watson developed the Theory of Human Caring, this space of transpersonal one-ness is what she was referring to, and I see such a yearning for this in my students,  my colleagues, and the people we serve. The question remains, what are you and your colleagues able to do to help end the oppression of the sacred- healing art known as nursing?

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