On this day (December 11, 1997), 20 years ago, I graduated with the group pictured after spending 2 years with them at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch, Texas. We all received an Associate of Applied Science-Associate Degree Nursing. Our diplomas, however, read El Centro College, that’s because the Nursing program belonged to El Centro College, we were a satellite group.
I haven’t seen this picture in years. What a ragtag looking group by today’s standards, all wearing outdated uniforms and hairstyles. Much of what we were taught would be considered outdated as well. I wonder what these people are doing today. Are they still nurses? Are any of them still at the bedside?
After graduating I was hired to work on the Medical/Surgical Unit at Doctors Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Doctors Hospital is located at Garland Rd and Buckner Blvd on the east side of White Rock Lake. None of the nurses that graduated with me came to work at this hospital.
In the summer of 1998 Darlene and I decided to move to Colorado, we were both hired to work at the Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado; I in the Cardiac telemetry unit and she in the operating room. After 1 year on the telemetry unit I decided that I wanted to work in the operating room, but something was missing; therefore, after 1 year in the operating room I went to work in the ICU stepdown.
In the summer of 2001, Darlene and I decided to move back to Texas. We were both hired a Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler, Texas; now Christus Trinity Mother Frances. I began working in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and she in day surgery. While at Christus Trinity Mother Frances, I spent a 3-year period in the Cardiac-Cath Lab and Electrophysiology labs, but have spent the majority of the past 16 ½ years in the Cardiovascular ICU.
A little over three years ago I decided to go back to school and obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington on December 19, 2015. During that time, I also obtained certifications as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and in Cardiovascular Surgery Recovery.
I am a sinner fallen short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a mercy seat in His blood through faith. (cf. Rom.3:23-25) In April of 2003 God saved me from the penalty of sin which is death, He is presently saving me from the power of sin which is the law, and I trust that on a future date He will save me from the presence of sin which is the resurrection of the body. (cf. 1Co.15:50-58)
On March 14, 2016, I began taking classes at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am working towards a Master of Theological Studies, because my desire is to know God. I have 6 classes remaining to obtain that degree; Lord willing, I should graduate this time next year.
What to do after graduation? For some time now I have been telling people that I believe nursing is a practical theology. Theology is the study of God. Practical theology is the right application of that knowledge. I recently learned of a branch in practical theology called Relational Care:
The theology of relational care pertains to ministering to the personal needs of others, primarily individuals going through crises of a temporal nature. ... Addressing these needs in relation to theology is generally facilitated in a religious or parachurch environment. (Wikipedia, n.d.)That description sounds a lot like the way hospitals and nursing began. Why do so many hospitals have a Christian name attached to them, but have no apparent connection to that name today? The theology of relational care is modeled after the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ. (Wikipedia, n.d.) Jesus spent a great deal of time caring for and healing the sick. (cf. Mar.6:13, Luk.4:40) Jesus taught His disciples; then after rising from the dead He commissioned them to make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Triune God, and teach them to observe all that He commanded them. (cf. Mat.28:16-20) Hospitals and nursing came forth from the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Florence Nightingale is credited for modern nursing theory; her care model was highly personalized with an emphasis on personal touch, fresh air, and silence; she organized a unit of 38 women in 1854 for service in the Crimean War. Today’s hospitals are highly structured, technical, and reimbursement-driven; this is a far cry from Nightingales care model. (Ferrell & Coyle, 2008)
A person that I know who is involved in the ministry of evangelism recently said to me, “For the record: it’s not my responsibility to change the world. It’s my responsibility to preach the gospel to people.” Here is the problem with that kind of logic; you cannot divorce the Great Commandment from the Great Commission, they are inseparable, one would die without the other.
Therefore, I plan to spend the next year working with patients and nurses in the Cardiovascular ICU at the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owens Heart Hospital. Then I plan to obtain a post-graduate nursing education certification and begin teaching at a nursing school in the fall of 2019. I am considering the possibility of continuing my education towards a PhD in Nursing, because this would give me a public voice to reform nursing back to a relational care model. Whatever I do, may it be for the glory of God and the good of my neighbor.