Each trimester, nearly 350 students at Adventist University of Health Sciences record their personal philosophies of healthcare. These clips, ranging in length from 30 seconds to two minutes, are published online.
“Going into nursing for me is a lot like going into the ministry. I feel like I was called by God to do this. Christ ministered to the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual needs of those that came to him for help. He looked beyond their color, their sex, their money, and their religious stance. As a nurse, it’s my duty to do the same. As I do that, God promises to give me patience, understanding, wisdom, and empathy.”
—Kevin Ives, nursing
“I have learned that ‘cure’ and ‘heal’ are not the same. To cure takes knowledge of treatment, and to heal comes from within; it is to make whole restoration of the spirit of the mind. . . This class has taught me to value individuals for who they are as children of God and to look past all other things.”
—Nichole Ziegler, health and biomedical sciences
“I’ve worked with many healthcare professionals who forget that their patient is someone human, and not just some other case file. Because of this, I feel that nurses especially are there not only to make sure you’re given the right medication and the treatment that you need, but to also give compassion and understanding to a person when they are feeling most in need.”
—Erica Serbia-Rodriguez, general studies
The project comes at the conclusion of a class entitled Philosophy of Healthcare. A required course for new students, the class covers topics such as human brokenness and worth, assumptions, and the vital role spirituality plays in well-being. It also introduces students to the lens of faith through which the college views and teaches healthcare.
“We show students what healthcare as ministry means to us, and then ask what it means to them. This project is an invitation to personalize and own the philosophy,” says Don Williams, academic dean. The responses are as rich and varied as the voices that make up the recordings. For some, the podcasts take the form of a personal story that led to a calling. For others, it’s a reflection on the type of healthcare provider students want to become.
“It’s sort of like a personal mission statement,” says Yvette Saliba, director of the Center for Academic Achievement and one of the pioneers of the class. “It challenges students to think about why they’ve chosen to pursue a career in healthcare, and gives them something to hold on to as they go into the medical field.”
Crafting such a statement is important for several reasons, says Stefanie Johnson, who helped design the class. “If I say, ‘I’d really like you to think about the three most important things in your life,’ it goes into the cloud of other things swirling in your head. But when someone forces you to write that down, turn it in, make it public, it makes you do the work,” says Johnson.
In doing the work, students also learn to convey what matters most in just a few words, a skill critical to their interactions with patients, which are often limited to a few minutes.
Of course, developing a philosophy of healthcare is an ongoing project. As students progress through programs and spend time working in real-life settings, their philosophies are expected to mature. To set an example, many college employees have also recorded their philosophies of healthcare.
“It’s our way of showing we’re still thinking about what it means to be an exceptional healthcare provider,” says Johnson. “We have to, because that’s what we’re striving to help students become.”
By Rainey Park