From a hospital nurse: We need to treat the community like a hospital right now

woman in black coat and face standing on street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on

I don’t work in a Covid unit. I don’t have to wear an N-95 mask all day. But I do work in a hospital full of very sick people with rapidly increasing numbers of people with Covid 19.

This month a friend, and church member died from Covid 19.

At the hospital my nurse friends cry, take deep breaths, pray and go to work in a building full of men and women sick enough to be hospitalized with this virus. They perform high-risk treatments and provide personal care, putting themselves and their families at risk.

Nurses know how to minimize transmission of contagious disease. Preventing the spread of disease is a key pillar of our profession. We know that we don’t have to know exactly how coronavirus spreads and how long the incubation period is to enact practices for preventing the spread of this disease or any virus. Hospital nurses work in a world with contagious disease everywhere. And this hospital nurse has a message: Right now we all need to treat the world like a hospital.

In the hospital there are very sick people with Covid as well as people with strokes, heart attacks, injuries from trauma and more. Nurses, aides, housekeepers, doctors, respiratory therapists, imaging techs and all the above sick and injured people are in the same building. In the hospital we’re caring for patients, having meetings, making schedules, eating lunch, going to to the bathroom, etc. Life and death and the effort to push back death in the hospital carries on. How does it carry on?

We wash our hands, wear masks, distance ourselves, and then wash our hands again and again and again.

We do what we have to do to keep each other and our patients from getting sick with something we don’t see or feel but could be passing to someone else.

We were doing this before COVID and we’ll be doing it after.

This is how we must behave in the world right now. This is why we need to wear masks, and wash our hands frequently and keep our distance from others. When we go to Walmart or to church services. When we fill our cars with gas or visit a friend. This is how we must go about our business. This is how we must live in our communities with Covid 19.

It’s not easy, fun or fair. But it’s the best way we know to push back death and disease and care for one another.

An argument for the costly care of the least of these

grayscale photography of patient and relative holding hands
Photo by on

wrinkled Boomers
with diabetes and heart disease
amputations and hemiparesis
are random collisions of worn out atoms
draining our society of valuable resources…

the cost of rehabilitating the Grey Tsunami,
aphasic from stroke,
requiring a hoyer lift
to move their paralyzed frames
from bed to a rolling shower chair
so nurses’ aides can wash silver strands
and run, warm soapy water under breasts
and cleanse away the urine and waste they cannot control
is debilitating our healthcare system…

nurse them with care and aide?
Why not kiss them on the cheek
and hand them over to death
and use the thirty or more pieces of silver to give to the poor
and make our lives a little easier?

Imago Dei
In every crooked grin
In every slobbered chin
On the face of every one of us
Who sin
And live
And don’t quite die
But slowly break down
In a body of death
Still coursing with blood
And disease

We’re holy
Bone and flesh
Breasts and chest
Bowel and bladder
Tongue and breath

in the least of these
who have yet to peak beyond the womb,
whose contracted legs
curl up in an aged, fetal form

tremble and shudder
We’re traumatized
We give dignity
and pour expensive resources
on the broken body

Imago Dei

Bedside nurse

bedside nurse
(Image Credit)

It’s a small army I see
two or three days a week.

While it’s dark and cold
we march in uniform,
feet shod with shoes ready
to keep a steady
clip for the next thirteen hours.

The building we raid looms tall and overwhelming,
pregnant with arrhythmias
calls for help to the bathroom
bowel and bladder accidents

But in we march
giving away our days to
the drug addict
the laboring woman
the feverish child
the suicidal man
the fractured old lady
the hemiparetic senior
the wounded, retired warrior.

Thoughts on late term abortion from a labor and delivery nurse perspective

grayscale photography of woman holding ultrasound photo
Photo by on

It’s hard for me to remain calm while thinking about the insanity behind bills like the ones in Virginia and New York that seek to make normal and acceptable the act of ending the life of a late-term, pre-born human baby; and in the Virginia case, a newborn infant.  But I’m going to try to remain calm and hopefully speak some reason into the insanity from my perspective as a nurse who has worked in labor and delivery.

When I became a nurse 18 years ago I worked in a labor and delivery unit in a large county and small town in Southwest Oregon.  During my 4 years there I saw early and late gestation fetal demise (the death of an unborn child early and late in the pregnancy), full-term seemingly healthy infants die in resuscitation, deliveries of infants with serious health problems and still birth.  I also witnessed many healthy, normal deliveries.  In some of those situations when the mother’s health was at serious risk, we delivered them of their babies, often premature and then we took every measure possible to save their babies lives. Sometimes the babies lived. Sometimes they did not.  In some cases the mother had to endure the pain of labor or the pain of surgery with the torture of grieving the unexpected death of their child.  In other cases mothers experienced the pain of labor or surgery with the joy of a new life, which would soon be mixed with the pain of healing and long-sleepless nights followed by a life of self-sacrifice to raise the child.

I have read through some of the arguments of  women I respect about why they think these late-term abortion laws are needed.  The argument about women having the right to do with their body what they want without government interference I’m not going to address here except to say, I agree. It’s your body and you should have the right to care for it without interference from the government. But when you cross over from caring for your body to harming another body that’s a whole other argument. The human growing in a woman’s womb is not her body. She may not want that human growing in her body. But it’s not her body. But I digress. What I want to address here are the two arguments I keep hearing that pull at our heart strings and should be wisely considered.

It’s Not Fair to Make a Woman Suffer When Her Baby Will Die Anyway

What about the woman who’s infant is severely deformed and will die as soon as he/she is delivered?  Why should the woman have to go through the suffering and dangers of pregnancy and delivery?

When you’re in the last trimester of pregnancy, there is no way around the pain and suffering your body is going to have to endure. For that matter, no matter the stage of pregnancy, even if you miscarry (spontaneously abort) at an early gestation, you’re body is going to go through some pain and healing.  If you delivery your baby and he or she is dead or dies soon after birth or even days or weeks after birth, you’re going to suffer. Your body is going to hurt and have to heal. You’re going to go through the stages of grief and face the demons that want to destroy every postpartum woman.  And if you elect to abort, you’re going to suffer. Your body is going to hurt and have to go through the healing process. You’re going to have to deal with the emotional trauma of the death of your baby and the decision you have made.

I believe delivering a pre-term infant that is putting the health of a mom at serious risk or the election to deliver a severly deformed infant pre-term who will not survive a normal labor and delivery at full term is physically and emotionally the healthiest way to walk through the pain and suffering of death and birth together. There’s no need for an abortion. When the oath, “do no harm” is taken, the life of the mother and the child are upheld. There will be pain and delivery and death. When harm is elected as the only option to uphold one life over another, there will still be pain and delivery and death, but with the added torture of being put in a position where people think you shouldn’t grieve because you chose to have an abortion.

My point is, when it comes to pregnancy and abortion, delivering the woman of a child, whether wanted or not will come with pain and suffering, and aborting a child will also inflict upon the woman pain and suffering. Choosing to abort your late-term baby does not delivery you of pain or suffering. I believe we honor the necessary grieving process and the image of God in both the woman and the baby human when we deliver a woman of her child, not abort her child.

The Pro-Life People Are Hypocrites

What about the hypocrisy of those who say they are fighting for the rights of the unborn but then neglect to provide for the needs of unwanted children and mothers and father’s struggling under the weight of raising children?

People who make this argument as a justification for abortion are rightly inditing pro-lifers, but they’re crossing wires. It’s hypocrisy and a shame that people will march and be filled with vitriol over abortion but do nothing to care for unwanted children.

I recently wrote a post about how even the unwillingness some of us have to lower ourselves to teach children the gospel exposes our hypocrisy in our pro-life stance. But the fact that so many among the religious right, or conservative Christians fail to do what they are commanded by God to do: care for orphans and welcome children…all children, does not mean women should be empowered to end the life of their unborn child.

The blood of many of these children may very well be on the hands of us who have done nothing to care for the children lost in the foster care system and the mothers and children living in poverty and without the gospel and love of the church.  But that evil does not justify the evil of abortion.

My perspective as a labor and delivery nurse comes from a Christian ethic which says all people are created in the image of God.  That means the unborn, the severely deformed, the grieving and guilty mother, the single-mom, the teenager who’s grown up in foster care, the disabled, the foreigner, the abortionists. This ethic means I must repent of and call out the evil we do that does not reflect the image of God. It means I must take up my cross and follow Jesus in laying down my life for women and children, whether they’ve had abortions, disabilities, been abandoned, or are just tired of the daily pains and sufferings of raising children.  It means I must be willing to suffer along side those who are suffering. It means I don’t counter evil with evil, but overcome evil by doing good.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21


Nursing : A ministry of dignity

Nakieshabedside(image credit)

I’m up late. Tomorrow I’ll start working night shifts at the hospital where I work as an Acute Rehabilitation nurse. It’s just temporary through the end of the year when I’ll complete my BSN… finally ( it only took 18 years).

I’m up late doing research for my Capstone project. It’s about how the nurses at my hospital can implement change to prevent our often elderly patients from acquiring pressure injuries (A.K.A. bedsores).  And all this research has me thinking about what motivates nurses and how much healthcare in the U.S. depends on nurses.

Nursing is not a lesser version of practicing medicine. It’s a way of honoring the dignity and worth of another human being through giving wholistic care, instruction and resources for the person’s good. But so often, especially bedside nurses, loose sight of what it is they do, or rather they’re disillusioned by what they do.

The pressure on bedside nurses from  hospital managers and administrators is to perform complex, fast-paced deliver of tasks and medications and education… endless requirements all documented to a T in 12 hours. The pressure from the bed (patients and family members) is often (not always- there are many thankful and inspiring people in those beds) to provide 5 star resort pampering. The pressure from our peers is often to act like we have it all together, like we don’t need help, like we can do anything. And all this pressure has many nurses loosing sight of what’s really important: human dignity. Our own, and our patients’.

This is where, for me, being a Christian nurse is so freeing. The yoke of hospital nursing in America is heavy, but Jesus’ yoke is light.

I don’t have to please the system, or please the patient even, I have to honor the Imago Dei in every one of my patients. When I make human dignity the aim of my nursing care, all the rules and regs and complaints fall like broken chains.

There is a healthcare crisis in the U.S. The fastest growing portion of the population are over 65 and many don’t have the resources or support to get the care needed to live and die with dignity.  There is a shortage of nurses in the U.S. and many are part of that fast-growing retirement age. Chronic disease plagues half of our populous and many don’t get the treatments, medications, appointments and care they need. Center for Medicaid Services has lists and codes and rules that make navigating the healthcare system a daunting task.  Amidst the dark maze of U.S. healthcare, nurses who value human dignity are respites of light.

Dear nurse, I know you feel overwhelmed. I do too. But stop and remind yourself, you’re a nurse. Not a doctor. Not a medication-technician. And you’re not a slave to the hospital or healthcare company you work for. You’re a nurse. A minister of help, hope and heart. You are a minister of dignity. Our healthcare system is a mess, but that person in that bed, no matter how nice or how cranky, how dependent on drugs or how debilitated with cancer, is a person made in the image of God.  And like Daniel Darling wrote referencing his surprising response to Horton Hears a Who:

‘Yes,’ I thought, “every person really is a… person, no matter what their usefulness to society, no matter how seemingly insignificant they are, no matter what their stature.”
A person’s a person. What a thought for our strange and confused age. – Daniel Darling, The Dignity Revolution. p.14


I’m not a medication technician. I’m a nurse.

hospital-840135_1920.jpgI met him at the time clock.

“How are you?”

“Great, now.”  He smiled reaching for the barcode side of his badge to swipe out.

It was the end of our shifts. He worked the observation unit where patients stay in the hospital for less than 24 hours.  He admitted 4, discharged 4, so had a total of 12 patients that shift.  “Not that bad actually…” he reasoned.  Usually it was more like 16 or 18 patients a shift with the rapid turnover, or thoroughput as the hospital administrators like to call it.

We walked into the elevator together lamenting the fact that we have degrees in nursing-which is a theory of practicing healthcare that is born out of service and caring for the whole person- but we are defacto medication technicians.

We pass meds, answer call lights, document idividualized plans of care, Braden scores, BMAT’s, NIH scales, head to toe physical assesments (that we’re basically filling in the blanks for cause we literally had 55 seconds in the room before being called out to talk to Dr. So and So), intake and output, vital signs (because we’re short on nursing assistants), Functional Independence Measurement scores (in perfect detail after noon and before the end of the shift because Medicare thinks we’re forecasting care if we capture it in a chart before noon.  Newsflash Medicare: WE ARE FORECASTING. IT’S THE ONLY WAY THIS REQUIREMENT WILL GET DONE)… I could go on and on. But all the time we spend with our patients is mostly given to documentation and passing meds…. we barely get time to squeeze in a really good asessment, much less time to educate our patients, listen to them, and collaborate with others for their good.

We’re nurses, not medication aides.  But at the end of a 12 hour shift of being interrupted every 55 seconds we cling to making sure our patients all got their medications and all the required charting is done as the evidence that we did something meaningful all day. And we hate it. We don’t want to just pass meds and chart. We want to nurse.

Nursing is not an assistant to practicing medicine.  Nursing is a way of practicing healthcare. It’s wholistic. It listens. It touches. It serves. It cares. It instructs. It encourages. It finds resources. It researches. It collaborates. It leads. It values the image of God in people.

The healthcare delivery system in America, especially in hospitals, lays a heavy burden on nurses’ shoulders.  But if we can see the value of what we’re doing and go to the person in that bed in need of a person to help them get better and go home, or die with dignity, we’ll drop the baggage of the U.S. healthcare system and become lightbearers.

At the end of a long day spent, I pray I can say my focus was the person, not the system.

I’m not a medication technician.  I’m a nurse.

Confessions of a comfort addict

mountains nature arrow guide
Photo by Jens Johnsson on

I’m getting nervous ya’ll.

On Monday I start the capstone class for my BSN. I’ve been trying to sit with this uneasiness and discern where it’s coming from.  I’ve decided it’s just the discomfort of being stretched beyond my zone.

I’m a comfort addict.  And a chronic conflict-avoider. Those scriptures about God being the God of all comfort and his children being peacemakers I can easily twist to say God doesn’t want me uncomfortable and we’ll just sweep that problem under the rug and try to forget about it.


Can’t do it.

I might try twisting, but the truth just snaps back into place and stings.

God is a God of all comfort and he leads me through very uncomfortable stretching so I can experience HIM as my comfort, not my circumstances. And Christ is the Chief Peacemaker, promising to bless me if I follow him in making peace. But he leads me in doing this by taking up a cross, bearing pain to deal with my sin and the sins of others. Loving, forgiving and enduring.  He doesn’t lead me in heaping up more and more trouble under the rug of my life.

So what does my passivity and comfort-lust have to do with my capstone class and completing my BSN? It has to do with entering the stretching zone knowing full-well, this is leading me to less comfortable circumstances and more cross-bearing.

There’s comfort in staying in a position I know well and could practically do with my eyes closed.  There’s much poking, prodding and acid-stomach  in stepping into a position of formal leadership in nursing, which is where I sense I’m being guided.

But there’s a whiff of refreshment blowing in the wind as I turn down this rocky road.  He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it. He is working all things together for my good to conform me to the image of Christ.  And one day I will see with my eyes the Scar-Bearing King of the Universe, who bore a bloody cross to lead me, and scandalously, he will say, “Well done! Sit here. What can I get you to eat?”

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. ‘ Luke 12:37

Take me with you Jesus!

A PSA from a short-of-breath nurse: Don’t go to the hospital to get pampered.

(Image credit here)

Amidst the cacauphony of I.V. alarms, bed alarms, chair alarms, call bells, overhead pages for code blue, code purple, stroke alert, ringing phones and the chatter of nurses, nurse’s aids, doctors, therapists and social workers, a nephrologist walks up behind me at the nurse’s station where I’m trying to get a handle on my patients’ (all 6 of them) history, medications, lab results and scheduled tests for the day as well as doing my required log-on charting. (Deep breath… that was a long sentence and that’s usually how I feel about 5 minutes into my shift at work. Deep breath Sheila, deep breath).

The nephrologist asks a question aimed into the general vacinity of the nurse cluster.

“Who’s the nurse for room 22?”

Her question is nearly drowned out by the noise, but since I’m inches from her I stop what I’m doing, look at the nurse assignment in my hand, look up at the doctor and tell her the name of the nurse.  No one knows where 22’s nurse is, so I call her on vocera.  She answers. She’s in a patient’s room doing a dressing change, can I take a message, she asks. I turn to the nephrologist, who heard the radio conversation, and she says, “That’s fine, just tell her I started her patient on lasix and ordered some labs for the morning. Her blood pressure is ok, but she is very edematous. Please be sure to get an accurate weight on the chart.”  And then she grabs her bag, and swiftly walks away, white coat flapping at her pace.

This little vignette, which took me a few minutes to write occurs non-stop for 12 hours on most hospital units.  The fast-paced, noisy, environment that presents demands from signs, alarms, questions, comments, phone calls and call bells are all aimed at one person: the nurse.

I always say nurses are the filter for everything that reaches the patient in the hospital. And whatever the patient wants to reach in the hosptial, has to also go through the nurse. The fact that nurse’s are interrupted every 55 seconds by issues that require their attention, even if only for the time it takes to delegate that interruption to someone else, is nevertheless problematic where nurses are pushed to fetch high patient satisfaction scores.

I’ve been a nurse for almost 18 years and over the years the increasing demand to bring in these high patient satisfaction scores has largely been directed, you guessed it, at nurses.  The reason is because the nurse is the filter.  And there’s nothing wrong with being the filter. Nor is there anything wrong with wanting a patient to be satisfied with their experience at a hospital.  But I take issue with the goal being patient satisfaction and not patient safety.

When nurse’s are pressured to be sure they deliver thorough assessments of their patients, detailed, accurate charting, and be the filter through which all things in the hosptial go to reach a patient, with the goal being a “happy costumer” and not a well-informed, well-cared for, safe patient, nursing becomes a juggling act with a fake clown smile.  And it shouldn’t be.

Without fail, every shift I work I hear complaints from my patients, not about the poor assessment or education their nurse gave them.  Not about the lack of kindness.  But about the missing mayo on their lunch tray.  That it’s noon and no one pulled the shades up. That they pushed their button 3 minutes ago and no one came to pick up their dinner tray.  There’s an attitude of entitlement amongst many of the patients I work with and in part I think it’s due to a lack of understanding about what nurse’s do and what the hosptial and healthcare system is for.  I think there’s a misconception perpetuated by hosptial advertisements that make people think when they go to the hospital they’re going to a 5 star resort. But it’s a hosptial, where people are really, really sick!  And people, not robots, are taking care all those sick people.

Deep breath Sheila, deep breath.

I am a Christian.  I believe deeply that loving my neighbor well, including my patients at work, is evidence that Christ is real and lives in me.  I believe serving others opens the door for testimony of the good news of Christ. I’m all about loving people well.  But catering to people’s desire to be pampered should in no way be part of what people expect when they seek healthcare or go to a hospital.  There’s a distinct difference between love and pampering.

There’s a healthcare crisis in America.  We are getting older, we are obese, have diabetes and are chronically ill.  According to the CDC 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has two or more chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, alzhiemers, and chronic kidney disease are what many of us in the hospital have two or more of.  And many of these are preventable.  But there’s an attitude I’ve been sensing over the past couple years among my patients that concerns me.  There’s an expectation to be pampered by the healthcare system and a lack of ownership for our choices.  There’s a lack of willingness to learn or change.  And there’s a lot of pressure on nurses to make us happy.

As a mom, I feel like this is antithetical to what it means to care for another person in love. Love does not rejoice in evil.  It does not coddle. It does not pamper.  It does not tell you what you want to hear when you have diabetes, heart disease, an infection and want the nurse to make you happy by bringing you extra ice cream.

I am not saying we should be rude nurse crachets to our patients.  I’m saying we need to enter the healthcare system as patients being our own best advocates.  We need to want to make changes in our lives so that we can be healthier.  We need to want to know what medications we’re taking and ask questions.  We need to learn about our diseases and how best to control them.

So in summary, as a PSA, from a nurse who very much wants you to be happy, in the long run, and healthy as you can be, please take ownership of your health.  And if you enter the hospital, please go there to get better and get home.  Don’t go there to get pampered.

*P.S. This post is not talking to people who can’t even access healthcare.  That’s a whole other PSA aimed at Christian doctors and nurses and people in positions of power and it goes something like this: Taking basic care of our neighbor’s human body is the right and dignified thing to do. Stay tuned…

Nurses, you’re doing God’s work!

india1.1.jpgThe idea of serving others in Christianity is unique in that it’s not the lowly who are called to serve because of their low position.  The call to serve is for those who would be the greatest.

When Jesus was describing the unique way his people would lead, he said:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ‘ Matthew 20:25-28

Christ, the King of kings, said he did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom.

Nurses in pre-structured nursing history were seen as the dregs of society.  They were prostitutes and “ignorant [women] who [were] not fit for anything else.” (Draper, 1893/1949, p.51).  The idea behind the nurse was that they would have to do what no one of upstanding or honorable report would want to do.  No one would want to clean up vomit, or bath a rotting body, or clean an infected would, or wash feces from an elderly persons perineum. The world saw nurses as “low” people fit to do “low” things.

But Jesus said that it’s the great people who do the “low” things.  He himself did what the society around him considered menial and too low for a man, much less a rabbi and surely not for the Son of God. He washed the feet of his disciples, including his betrayer. He touched social outcasts with leprosy and applied healing treatments to the eyes of the blind.  He spoke to a woman who’s “issue of blood” had separated her from society, called her daughter and healed her.

God’s work, as manifest in his Son, is to go low to lift others up.  God doesn’t go low because he’s ignorant or unfit for anything else.  He goes to the poor, the outcast, the broken, the ill, the foul-smelling, bleeding, blind, diseased and dying and he reaches into their need to lift them out of despair and hopelessness.

Nurses do God’s work.  And they are not ignorant men and women unfit to do anything else.  They are honorable, knowledgeable, skilled, professional and educated and from their high position they do a work that is like the work of the Servant-King who laid down his life that others might be healed.



Will Christian nurses lead the way in providing healthcare for the marginalized?



In the days of the Norwegian awakening in 1850, the revival of faith in Christ among Christians sparked a birth of an order of service to the sick and poor.  The Kaiserswerth deaconesses began serving their communities as trained nurses out of a renewed joy of their salvation in Jesus. Their renewed fervor for Christ effected their involvement in their meeting the needs of those on the margins in their society (Shelley and Miller. 2006).  That’s what happens when your heart is ablaze with hope and love from the Spirit of Christ. It’s always been that way for Christians.

Paul, in the Bible, was urged by the apostles, when he was new to the faith to, “remember the poor,” and be generous in helping meet their needs.

Tertullian spoke of the reputation of early Christians when he said, “It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving-kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. “Only look,” they say, “how they love one another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another.” (Shelley and Miller, 2006)

Ancient historian Eusebius of Caesarea wrote, “The Christians were the only people who amid such terrible ills, showed their fellow-feelings and humanity by their actions. Day by day some would busy themselves by attending to the dead and burying them; others gathered in one spot all who were afflicted by hunger throughout the whole city and give them bread.” (Shelley and Miller, 2006)

As Shelley and Miller point out in their book, there’s a distinct way nursing, apart from other healthcare professions, displays Christlikeness. That distinct characteristic is hands-on service of others.  Not that doctors, PA’s, therapists and assistants don’t give hands-on service, but nursing, of all those professions is an army of people who provide hands-on, bedside service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the ill and  injured.

It being national nurse’s week, I thought it a good time to think out loud (post a blog) about what I am asking God might be the role of nurses in the U.S. burdened healthcare system.  And I’m thinking from a Christian perspective.

I know the push nationally and politically is for nurses to become the primary providers of healthcare in the U.S.  It’s less expensive and there are more of us to meet the needs of our aging population.  But as a Christian, I see those the healthcare system, even if driven  by nurses, won’t care for.  Like the deaconesses of the 1850’s I see the marginalized in our society and I wonder, “What’s my role? How can I just ignore this need?”  And it’s an enormous need!

The elderly, disabled, orphaned, medically fragile, mentally ill, homeless, poor and ethnic minority population in our country is no small margin of folks.  The elderly alone make up the greatest and fastest growing portion of our population. The U.S. healthcare system can’t and won’t be able to meet the needs of so many of these people.  People, made in the image of God.

I wonder if God would raise up an American army of nursing deaconesses in his church who would give freely in our communities the provision of hands-on service to those who will never be able to pay for our services. I wonder if we would cleansing wounds, change diapers, give medications, assist in ambulation, relieve pain, provide resources, and speak the gospel into the lives of those our healthcare system will never be able to care for.

Jesus calls those who follow him to serve and love like he does.  In fact, it is he who works in us Christians to will and act the way he does. Christian nurses have a great opportunity ahead of us in the U.S.  If we will follow Jesus, surely we will be driven by our Servant-King’s love to give to those who can’t give back and to lay our lives down for those Jesus would redeem.

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:26-28