In 1837, at the age of 17, Florence Nightingale heard the voice of God calling her to His service. This call led her to become a pioneer in modern nursing practice, strengthening the already solid ties between faith and nursing that had begun in monasteries centuries earlier. The relationship between spirituality and nursing remains relevant today, especially in a time of increasing religious diversity.
For two days last weekend, over 100 nurse educators, undergraduate nursing students, and interested nurses from the community gathered on Trinity Western University's campus for a symposium on the intersection between faith and nursing practice. The vision for the event derives from TWU Nursing Department's desire to "build a community of nurse-scholars who are thoughtful about faith and nursing," says Dr. Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham, Associate Professor of Nursing.
The symposium began on Friday evening with a welcome address from TWU president Dr. Jonathan Raymond. Raymond, who has worked closely with nurses in the past as the Director of the International Centre for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research at the University of Hawaii, expressed his respect for the nursing profession and commented on TWU's nursing program as "a developing part and strength of the University."
Raymond's address was followed by keynote lecturer Dr. Bart Cusveller, Associate Professor of Ethics and Nursing at the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede (the Netherlands) and internationally renowned scholar in the area of Christian ethics, philosophy and spirituality in nursing practice. Cusveller, currently a visiting scholar at TWU, spoke on how Christian commitment pertains to the nursing vocation.
Karen Jonson of Fraser Health Authority responded to Cusveller's lecture, noting issues specific to the British Columbia nursing community as well as possible solutions. Her response was followed by a question and answer period.
Heather Elliot, 4th year 22 year old TWU undergraduate nursing student, commented on the event, noting that "It was encouraging to gather with different generations of nurses. It's encouraging to sit here together and discuss these issues because you realize that there are people willing to continue that dialogue."
Saturday's events provided the opportunity for dialogue in a more intimate setting as attendees discussed the relationship between faith and nursing in workshops. Key issues addressed were how to tend to the religious and spiritual needs of the patient and the interactions between health and the environment, health as relational and in community, health as human flourishing, and health as the absence of the social determinants of disease.
Reimer-Kirkham noted that the symposium, described by guests as "inspirational," "exceptional," and "a gift," will likely become an annual event, and Cusveller expressed hopes for future collaboration and exchange between the Nursing Department's of TWU and the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede.
For more information on Trinity Western University's Nursing Department, including the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, visit: http://www.twu.ca/academics/nursing/.
Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 41undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 17 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.
Last Updated: 2009-11-10