Members Blog

Members Blog2020-07-04T13:34:45+00:00

Telehealth Takes on New Meaning for Faith Community Nursing

When the Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards Workgroup for the 2017 third edition of the Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice wrote the section on the use of telehealth, we had no idea just how critically important both telehealth and virtual connection would become [read more…]

Celebrating the Year of the Nurse

The World Health Assembly has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The American Nurses Association has expanded the celebration to the entire month of May. Traditionally, May 6 is National Nurses Day, beginning a week of celebration, culminating on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. On May 12, 2020, at 12:00pm (your local time), every nurse across the country is invited to pause and observe a moment of silence and prayer in celebration of the heart and spirit of the profession of nursing.
HMA will be joining all of our nurse colleagues in prayer and gratitude for the outstanding ministry you provide each and everyday. Every Faith Community Nurse HMA member should have received a certificate of appreciation. Faith Community Nurses were invited to write about their entry into and journey through the profession of nursing. The following are just some of our stories:

Why I Became a Nurse: I was a “pre-med” student at the University of South Florida, and my early-morning phlebotomy job at the V.A. hospital across the street provided my first view of the practices of doctors and nurses in an acute care setting. I observed physicians making rounds to see patients, while nurses were more present at the bedside, seeming to know patients and their families/support groups (as opposed to just knowing about them). At that time, I didn’t have the words to articulate my impressions, but I would say now that I saw nurses providing whole-person care – body, mind and spirit – and I began to feel that this type of relational care-giving was my calling. This was surprising, since I had decided in my early elementary school years (1960s) that I would never, ever become a nurse. My mother and two aunts were RNs with a love for their work, but they also talked about how the contributions of nurses to health care were generally poorly understood and unappreciated. They had graduated from nursing schools in the 1930s – 1950s, when few professions were easily accessible for women. I thought I ought to take advantage of the fact that more options were open to me in the 1970s-80s, in the same way that I felt that I ought to vote because there was a time when women could not. I was learning that as new doors opened, old doors might remain open, also. With many options available, I freely and joyfully chose to follow a call to nursing.    

What Keeps Me in Nursing: The very things that drew me to acute care nursing have helped me serve a variety of patient groups and students in a number of roles and settings.  The “essence” of nursing transcends specific roles and settings, allowing for human service, intellectual stimulation, role exploration and professional growth, often with scheduling options that allow attention to the changing needs of a family, as well.

The Most Rewarding Aspect of Being a FCN: The intentional care of the spirit as part of whole-person care is not unique to professional nursing. I enjoy working collaboratively with spiritual leaders, various health care professionals (including FCNs), educators, business owners, and many other caring people who wish to promote individual, family and community wellness.

Neppie Alexander
University of South Florida College of Nursing
BSN Class of 1983

I have a heart to help people and to serve in our Faith Based communities. When I was in the 3rd grade I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. Along my career journey I worked in the hospital, but later realized that I enjoyed working in the community. I worked as a Public Health nurse for many years. However, in later years grew to really enjoy Faith Community nursing. I am happy serving with the pastors and the churches in the community. What a blessing!
With appreciation.

Deborah Dixson



My Journey to Nursing
Since 8th grade, my career path seemed set. Raised in a household where both of my parents were attorneys and lively discussions ruled the dinner table, it seemed a likely educational direction.

Late in 1969, I was given the opportunity to “work” as a candy striper at Hines War Veterans Hospital in Maywood, IL. It was a summer job opportunity that my parents would be a good experience and one that help inform me better of world events.

The Vietnam War was in progress and my experience with caring for young men and some women not much older than me changed my life and career choice that summer of 1969.

When I shared with my parents my change of plans and my hope that they would not be disappointed in me not pursing law, my dad assured me to choose what I felt passionate about and that would always serve me well.

My dad was right~ after earning my BSN from Loyola University of Chicago in 1976, nursing has been my career, but more importantly, it has been my passion.

I have worked as a critical care nurse, charge nurse on a surgical unit, emergency room supervisor, 3-11 nursing supervisor, nurse educator, and beginning in 1991, transitioned from hospital nursing to parish nursing.

Since 1991, my passion remains nursing and the specialty practice of faith community nursing. From my beginning as a new parish nurse in 1991, and in 2001 becoming the director of the parish nurse program started by Reverend Doctor Granger Westberg. Additionally, serving on the FCN scope and standards work groups for the past 15 years and the awesome opportunity of working with ANCC on the FCN certification by portfolio process.

I have been blessed to be a member of HMA since 1997 and currently serve on the HMA Board!

Thanks, Dad, for your words of wisdom!
Nancy Durbin

Why I went into nursing: I owe my passion for nursing to my parents. I am one of 7 children, blessed with parents who worked through all the challenges of marriage until death did them part. My Mom was always finding ways to make less go further with this huge family while making us feel special, nurtured, safe, and cared for. My Dad was a Renaissance man, able to fix anything. He applied his skills to us children, setting bones and taping wounds before steri-strips were ever invented. They both were very smart, intuitive, creative and ethical- all the qualities that make for a great health-care professional. When I discovered the feeling of helping/healing others as I learned from them, along with excelling in the sciences and math, nursing was the perfect track for me.

What Nursing means to me: Nursing is the venue that empowers me to support the people in my life. It combines the science, assessment, training skills, intuition, and compassion that allows self-actualization to be my best and share this gift for the best quality of life here and now.

The best thing about being an FCN: Being a FCN incorporates all the nursing skill with my faith to be able to support people not only in body, but also in mind and spirit. It challenges me to grow and learn every day.  I will always be a FCN, my very favorite field of Nursing, to empower people for optimum quality of life now, and the transition from this life to eternity. I LOVE the opportunities to facilitate solutions for people, communities, friends, strangers- wherever God divinely-guides the need.

Susan Fontaine

I always had a heart for compassion. I was even a Candy Striper at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital where, ironically, Parish Nursing first started. However, I didn’t always want to be a nurse, I had an interest in Journalism and was initially an English major. While I loved the learning, I was missing something in my studies. I figured out it was the relational component. In sophomore year of college, I started my nursing classes at Loyola University. I have worked as a nurse in a variety of environments and have recognized that it was my calling all along. My career has taught me that as Leo Buscaglia says, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Julie Ruchniewicz

My “Plan A” was to be a music teacher. I was involved in everything musical, vocal and instrumental. My dad was a pastor, and that meant that sometimes we moved when God called him to serve a different church. In 9th grade we relocated, and I had a tough time adjusting to a new place. My new friends suggested I go with them to be a Candy Striper at Hackensack Hospital. I signed up, not sure if it was peer pressure, or if I was really interested. I was hooked almost instantly. When I told my parents that I intended to become a nurse, there were mutterings that no one in our family had ever done that. They quickly became supportive, and remained my greatest cheerleaders.

I have been blessed to experience the profession in many roles and places. From Neonatal Intensive Care to Hospice, from New York to North Carolina. I have found a place to serve. More than half of my career has been in community settings. I “found” Parish Nursing in the early 1990s, and became a Parish Nurse in 1998. To me, it seems like a wonderful culmination to a life-affirming career. It uses all my gifts, while allowing me to minister to others in small, but significant ways. I have loved being a nurse. So thankful God lead me here!
Ruth Syre

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