The Essence of Nursing

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Mat.22:36-40)
The essence of nursing is to take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ; loving your neighbor with complete disregard for your own gratification and needs. Nursing, despite all of our education, despite all of our strivings as professionals; we are first and foremost servants to those in need. Josephine Dolan wrote as quoted “Even after nineteen hundred years it is difficult to fully comprehend the impact of the birth of Jesus Christ and His teaching on society and the care of the sick.”1

This is what I believed the essence of nursing was when I returned to school in 2014, and it is what I believe the essence of nursing is today. I believe that the profession of nursing is in need of reform:
Nurses have evolved from the highly personalized care modeled by founder Florence Nightingale (who organized a unit of 38 women in 1854 for service in the Crimean War) to a modern-day bedside characterized by high-tech equipment, alarms, and digital data. In modern health care, financial implications commonly override considerations of individual needs.2
When I returned to school, my first assignment was to write my personal nursing philosophy, but everything that I was taught after that was “highly structured, technical, and reimbursement-driven.”Where I currently work financial considerations are the name of the game. Almost every message that I receive from management has something to do with financial considerations and it greaves me deeply to read them. Are financial considerations important? Of course, even in an environment that is truly non-profit there would be limited funds to work with, but financials are not the primary consideration for nursing. The primary consideration for nursing is to honor God, exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and seek the best for our neighbors.

1 Mike Peek, “My Doctrine on Nursing is Love,” The Nurse Theologian; July 13, 2014,
2 Betty R. Ferrell and Nessa Coyle, The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2008), 6.
3 Ibid.