Developing and providing godly Christian leadership in nursing
The TWU School of Nursing is committed to equip nurses for excellence in nursing practice.
Through the mentorship of knowledgeable, supportive and passionate faculty, TWU students are taught to be competent, ‘covenantal caring’ nurses, who embody a spirit of inquiry to provide person-centred care that addresses equity and quality of life for individuals and communities within pluralistic societies. TWU nursing graduates are reflective, life-long learners, prepared to give servant leadership to the changing health care needs of a global community.
As part of a Christian liberal arts university, the TWU School of Nursing is dedicated to excellence, with the view that the educational experience should cultivate knowledge and personal development to glorify God and to serve humankind. The School of Nursing is guided by distinctive core values:
- Covenantal caring
- Culture of Inquiry
Trinity Western University supports holistic student development. All courses are informed by a Christian worldview. Core liberal arts courses in science, art, philosophy, language, religion, and society and culture encourage students to think biblically, critically, ethically, and creatively about the world. Interdisciplinary courses support students’ abilities to consider how a Christian worldview affects one’s approach to the academic and professional disciplines. Nursing courses equip students to work in partnership with individuals, families, groups, and communities for the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health.
The TWU School of Nursing philosophy draws on Christian perspectives regarding the nature of people, health, environment, nursing, nursing scholarship and nursing education, described as follows:
Nature of PERSONS and PERSONHOOD
Human beings are formed as reflections of God’s nature, Imago dei; as such they are co-creators and holders of a steadfast commitment to nurture, sustain, and redeem, or facilitate positive transformation, of their world, others, and themselves. Although the term ‘person’ may imply transient legal definitions that limit rights, we believe that all human beings are of inestimable value and equally share the legacy of imago dei regardless of age and maturity, intellectual ability, or physical or mental disability, injury or illness.
We believe that ‘person’ and ‘personhood’ are relational constructs that are reflected in the Personhood of God exemplified in the nature of the Trinity: trifold facets of three Persons eternally relational in a dynamic gestalt. Human beings as individuals reflect a similar interior gestalt of body, mind, spirit; they also reflect an exterior relational rootedness in family and community. Meaning-making in the form of career, vocation, and life place make up a third relationship that form exterior relational rootedness.
Even in the midst of relationship, each person is unique and experiences uniqueness. The individual person, their experience and life journey is distinct; as such diversity is to be cherished as a gift to community and a strengthening of society. Seeking equity and justice for all individuals and groups marginalized by structural and social factors groups of persons is rooted in a recognition of a shared legacy of Imago dei and a living out of relational wholeness that seeks to nurture, sustain, and facilitate positive transformation of individuals.
Holding hope for persons experiencing hopelessness; finding joy in those who have lost their joy; seeking peace in internal conflict, are ways that honoring of individuals is realized and the vision of persons as Imago dei is lived out.
Nature of HEALTH
Health is a central focus of nursing care and intersects with all areas of human experience. As defined by the World Health Organization (1948), health can be viewed as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. As such, health is closely related to notions of well-being and quality of life, which has been further defined as “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. It is a broad ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person’s physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships and their relationship to salient features of their environment” (World Health Organization, 1997).
Health is not simply a goal but also a resource to fulfill the purpose of a person’s life. People find health in their circumstances as they discover the resources to bring meaning and to cope with their personal situations. Health is not equivalent to the absence of disease but can often be experienced amidst adverse circumstances. Health has a subjective component and often depends upon the priorities and meanings an individual assigns to life. Physical and social conditions influence health and are influenced by health in complex, but also predictable ways. Individuals can make choices that contribute to healthy living. Societies can promote health through focusing on equity and the social determinants of health. A significant focus of nursing care is to work with individuals, families and communities to ensure that nursing interventions and healthcare services enhance conditions relevant to the health and wellbeing of those in need of care.
Nature of ENVIRONMENT
A created environment that sustains and regenerates surrounds humankind. God invites us to be partners in co-constructing a world of human flourishing, wholeness and delight (Plantinga cited in Doornbos et al, 2005). People shape, and are shaped by, this environment. Nurses advocate for environmental stewardship which plays a role in sustaining the health of humankind.
Nursing is concerned with the global community, the health care community and the community of significant relationships that surround and impact each individual. Increasingly, nurses live and work within a global community. Changes that impact the health and well-being of one nation have far reaching consequences. Nurses need to be informed and concerned over global health issues, particularly inequitable conditions that create and sustain poverty and oppression, and thereby act as social determinants of health. Nurses work at group and societal levels for the promotion of health by examining social, political, and economic factors that place constraints upon health, and by lobbying for change.
Nurses share responsibility for the social community called health care. Nurses work to foster accessible, equitable, caring health care communities where individuals work together for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health. Nurses are concerned with social communities such as families, where individuals form their significant relationships and find interconnectedness. An atmosphere of love and acceptance within these relationships are foundational to health and well-being. Finally, nurses are concerned with the immediate physical environments of clients. They work to create safe, comforting and healing environments both within communities and health care organizations.
Nature of NURSING
Nursing practice is facilitating, supporting and assisting individuals, family, communities and/or societies to enhance, maintain and recover health, and to reduce and ameliorate the effects of illness. Nursing’s relational practice and science are directed toward the explicit outcome of health related quality of life within the immediate and larger environmental contexts (Thorne et al., 2002).
Nursing as a practice profession dates back four centuries in Canada, and is rooted in a Christian ethos of caring for strangers as a societal obligation (Ross-Kerr & Grypma, 2012; Bates et al, 2005). Commonly described as both a science and an art, nursing draws on fundamental and enduring patterns of knowing: empirics (science of nursing), aesthetics (art of nursing), personal (Self and Other in nursing), ethics (moral component of nursing) and emancipatory knowing (praxis of nursing) (Carper, 1978; Chinn & Kramer, 2011). Together, these ways of knowing serve the moral end of nursing, the promotion and restoration of health. The profession is best served by epistemological diversity (Thorne, Reimer Kirkham, & Henderson, 1999) where knowledge is sought and legitimized to support biological and humanistic aspects of nursing practice.
Nursing within a Christian worldview supports the concept of covenantal caring, caring that has a moral foundation in God’s covenant with humankind. Caring is a sacred trust. In caring for the health of others, nurses ultimately serve God and creation. Covenantal caring is rooted in foundational principles, the image of God in humankind and thus the absolute value of human life, and relationships that are characterized by love, equality, and freedom (Bradshaw, 1994). Nurses identify and address inequalities and injustices that have the potential to impact health through critical awareness of and reflection on the social, cultural and political status quo (Chinn & Kramer, 2011) and the ways in which diversity and markers of difference (race; gender; class) relate to health inequities. As global citizens, nurses have a critical role and responsibility to the nursing profession (Mill, Astle, Ogilvie & Gastaldo, 2010) to engage in our local, national, and international community. This entails an inward personal awareness and commitment to global issues, as well as an outward action on local and global issues (Hanson, 2010).
Nature of NURSING SCHOLARSHIP
Scholarship in nursing encompasses a full range of intellectual and creative activities that may include the generation, validation, synthesis, and/or application of knowledge to advance the teaching, research and practice of nursing. (CASN, 2006).
Rooted in a spirit of inquiry and aimed towards practice excellence, nursing scholarship is concerned with the development, synthesis, transfer and exchange of new knowledge. Nursing scholarship contributes to evidence-based practice by “building a scientific body of nursing knowledge (scholarship of discovery), inquiry that supports the pedagogy of the discipline and the transfer of knowledge to learners (scholarship of teaching), generation and use of specialized nursing knowledge outside the academic setting (scholarship of service), the advancement of nursing knowledge through expert practice (scholarship of application), and the development of new insights as a result of interdisciplinary work (scholarship of integration).” (Boyer, 1990; Riley et al., 2002, cited in CASN, 2006).
Based on the assumption that all nurses in academia have a responsibility to engage in and advance scholarship (CASN, 2006) and that engagement in scholarship is a central part of nursing leadership, TWU values the pursuit, critical evaluation and sharing of rigorous scholarship, considering these to be central to educational and professional vitality in nursing.
Nature of NURSING EDUCATION
Nursing education at TWU is grounded in the historical Christian tradition and fosters a culture of spiritual-intellectual integration and a spirit of inquiry. Within the context of a liberal arts university, TWU seeks to develop the whole person by facilitating students’ intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual development within a context of community. The liberal arts foundation prepares students to deal with complexity, diversity and change. TWU nursing provides educational experiences that, together with courses in humanities, sciences and the arts, prepare students for professional practice in nursing and a life of learning and service. Through the range of their experiences at TWU, nursing students have opportunity to develop: knowledge and its application; cognitive complexity; inter- and intra-personal wellness; spiritual formation; social responsibility and global engagement; leadership (TWU SLOs, 2012).
TWU aims to equip graduates for nursing practice based on varied sources of nursing knowledge: empirical, ethical, personal, aesthetic & emancipatory (Carper, 1978, Chinn & Kramer, 2011). Research-based practice is emphasized in conjunction with knowledge derived from theory, clinical expertise, personal experience, client preference, moral principles, and understanding of larger social, cultural, historical, economic, and political influences. Students are guided in careful deliberation in identifying which sources of knowledge serve as foundations for “best practice” in particular client situations.
Considering the learning of life balance important to future success in nursing practice, the School of Nursing strives to establish an educational climate that allows students to pursue their studies effectively. Key to this climate is developing student uniqueness, fostering partnership within realistic boundaries, focusing on personal excellence rather than group competition, and providing efficient and just administrative support structures.
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Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (2006) Position Statement on Scholarship in Nursing. Statement. Retrieved from: http://www.casn.ca/vm/newvisual/attachments/856/Media/1ScholarshipinNursingfinalNov2006.pdf
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