Nursing is a Calling: How Faith-Based Education Makes a Difference

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Why a faith-based nursing education matters

We hear often from accelerated nursing students who say they felt drawn to the profession; that nursing is a calling for them.

That was certainly the case for Ruth Lamb, a stay-at-home mom of four who spent five nights in the hospital a few years ago. Observing her care team’s passion for nursing inspired the former computer programmer to forge a new professional path for herself.

“When I was in the hospital, it was like, this is the answer to my prayers,” she says. “Ever since then, I’ve loved it. It’s been what I was called to do.”

In Ruth’s search for nursing schools, Marian University’s focus on holistic care — treating mind, body, and spirit — and Franciscan values stood out to her.

Learning about Marian University’s clinical partnership with Saint Thomas Health, part of Ascension, the country’s largest Catholic healthcare system, solidified in her mind that she found the right nursing program for her.

“(Saint Thomas) trains a lot on values, on how to treat your patients as humans. …A very big part of their mission is to humanize the patient and let them know they’re cared for,” she says.

Why does faith-based nursing matter?

Marian University is a Catholic institution, and our nursing students earn a BSN framed within the context of Franciscan values. Why is that important?

Because not only do our ABSN students learn the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed to excel in the profession, they also gain a deeper purpose focused on the dignity of the individual, peace, and justice, reconciliation, and responsible stewardship.

We incorporate these values into every aspect of the program, from online courses and on-site skills and simulation labs to clinical rotations at our clinical partners: St. Vincent in Indianapolis and Saint Thomas Health in Nashville.

Like Marian University, both are nonprofit, Catholic institutions that apply spiritually centered, holistic care to improve the health of the individual and the community. Each does this through its core tenants of service of the poor, reverence, integrity, wisdom, creativity, and dedication.

As such, whatever your personal values and religious beliefs, the fundamental values of holistic care — treating the mind, body, and spirit — and a faith-based nursing education can help you become a better nurse because they can:

Make you a more compassionate (and empathetic) nurse

Studies have shown that nurses who had a passion for nursing and felt called to the profession had a better understanding of their patients’ maladies and served as better sources of support for them.

We aim to instill that sense of compassion in our students early in their accelerated nursing education. By participating in mock emergency scenarios in simulation labs, as an ABSN student you’ll play various roles from physician to family member and begin to understand how various parties feel when a patient receives care.

These experiences will come into play again when you interact with patients during your clinical rotations. You’ll quickly find that your role as a nurse will require your respect, compassion, and empathy for the dignity and diversity of life.

“We have a lot of classes that emphasize that family is equally important, that you have to take care of the patient in whole,” Ruth says. “We’re very much trained to walk in, before anything else, to make eye contact and ask if they’re OK.”

It’s an unintended effect (and certainly not why we emphasize these values), but having a nursing degree from an institution that teaches holistic care makes you stand out to potential employers.

Help you see nursing as a profession with purpose

In your nursing career you’ll undoubtedly experience tough moments that will have you questioning why you chose the profession to begin with (like when a patient codes or you’re dealing with a patient’s difficult family member). It’s during those times you can draw from your Franciscan values-based nursing education and remember that you’re doing work worth doing.

How does that mindset help you become a better nurse? Recent research suggests the benefits of having a sense of purpose in the workplace include:

  • Greater camaraderie with colleagues and connection with patients.
  • Trivial and unpleasant tasks take on a larger meaning and significance.
  • Greater life satisfaction.

Those values still resonate with ABSN alumna Ashley Piercey, who now works as a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.

“My goal is to impact as many lives as I can. When you’re working with pediatrics, you’re not only working with the kids — you’re working with the entire family,” she says.

Equip you with critical thinking and problem-solving skills

The Marian University ABSN program requires students to take two theology courses, which will help you become the best nurse you can be, no matter your own religious background.

For one, nursing requires the ability to think critically and solve problems. Theological study allows you to explore abstract ideas, then communicate those complex concepts to others — both of which you’ll do daily on the job as a nurse when discussing nuanced care plans with doctors, patients, and families.

Don’t worry if you feel nervous about taking these courses — our faculty and staff support all students on their unique nursing journey and value every student’s perspective.

Even though I had attended Catholic schools in the past, the thing that had changed was me; I had become a Mormon. I didn’t know how it would be to take a theology class at a Catholic school, having a different religion, but I enjoyed the theology classes. …I appreciated that the instructors appreciated my point of view.

Adanna Williams, ABSN Class of August 2016

Teach you how to collaborate closely within a team

As mentioned above, having a sense of purpose in the workplace leads to a greater sense of camaraderie with coworkers, a vital component to your success in working as part of a patient’s care team.

As an ABSN student, you’ll practice your skills in a supportive team environment by collaborating with fellow nursing students and nurses during on-site simulation labs and clinical rotations in a mission-and values-based way.

No matter where your nursing career takes you, you’ll work with professionals and treat patients who come from cultures and religions different from your own. Remembering that, regardless of background, you’re all working toward the same goal of doing the most good — and supporting each other in pursuit of that mission — will make you a vital member of any patient’s caregiving team.

“I built a strong relationship with the people I worked with. I was never stranded. If someone needed something, everyone went in to help. If we had a new admit, we always had more people in the room than we needed,” Ruth says. “It was a great environment to work in.”

Find your new calling in as few as 16 months

If you’re ready to turn your passion for nursing into a career, the Marian University ABSN program could help you accelerate your path to a new vocation. One of our dedicated admissions advisors would be happy to help you determine if our ABSN program is the right fit for you and your goals. Fill out this form to have someone contact you.