What is Nursing?

What is Nursing?

I began my journey many years ago, before I was even 18. I was the youngest in my class and the first to pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). But looking back, the one question I see looming for my profession is “What does a nurse do?”

Many have tried to educate others about what a nurse does, but this has been not easy. Nursing is truly a “calling,” a soul reaching out to be Christ’s hands. Each of us has gifts, and a healer’s gifts are precious to me. Helping new life come into existence and watching new parents swell with pride, helping people in the middle of life deal with illness and recovery and helping people at the end of the life circle—regardless of age—by holding the hand of the one that crosses over to the other side, then holding the family that now will miss that loved one.

GEIST is a nurse. Nurses Grow Strategically through their education, Engage Collectively to care for those we serve, Innovate Creatively by finding ways to help those around us and each other, Serve Courageously by caring for those that have diseases that could kill us and Transform Purposefully by helping turn a patient’s weakness and illness into health or hold a hand as they cross over in death.

The last two years have proven brutal to nurses. All these things—birth through death—still occur, but without family support for the patient and, many times, without family support for the nurse, who does not want to go home for fear of spreading COVID to their loved ones.

And yet young people come to the university to become nurses. That calling leads them to become healers, scientists, budget controllers, schedulers, organizers, advocates, mentors, educators and providers. So many things a nurse can grow into or become. But always at the heart of nursing is advocacy for the patient. At this time, nurses are even serving in Congress to further the cause for our patients and ourselves.

Fresno Pacific University decided to help students become nurses and providers in 2011—what a magnificent journey it has been! Then in 2017, I came to help bring a bachelor’s program for traditional undergraduate nurses. This chapter is nearing fruition. There will be TUG nurses at our university who will become providers, and more levels and routes to enter nursing are planned at FPU. We need nurses badly everywhere.

Some 115,000 nurses worldwide have died from COVID while trying to care for the sick. Another one in five has resigned and moved on to other occupations for fear of their lives, worsening the shortage. COVID has not given up, and neither have the nurses left to care for the ill—but they need relief.

Fresno Pacific University is built on the idea to help ease the need. A noble venture, and one I truly believe we need. To serve the underserved and the ones no one wants to serve in all cultures and all cities within our reach. Our neighbors, our families and those we have not met yet.

So ask me what a nurse is? I describe a loving, tender soul, with high ethics and an understanding, Christ-driven heart. According to Gallop polls for the last 20 years, nursing is the most trusted profession, even above clergy. Why? Because we are there at the beginning and the end, caring for our neighbors and family every day. And now in these times of rough waters, we reach to each other for healing and balance and to make it through another shift. I have grown tired and now have passed on my knowledge and have a need to rest. I will pray for our nurses, knowing Christ will watch over them. For what is a nurse? The nurse is the hands and feet of Christ.

Matthew 25:40: “And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it to me.”

What an honor.

Rox Ann Sparks, DNP

Rox Ann Sparks, DNP

Professor of Nursing, Director, RN to BSN and BSN Programs