Apr 28, 2009
Gaining respect. providing care.
by Amanda Baker
Liberty University has long prided itself on a competitive nursing program that raises the bar for potential nursing students. This high standard not only challenges the students to become exceptional nurses, but it also encourages them to apply their extensive knowledge in the “real world.”
By working with full-time nurses at local hospitals, nursing students are given the opportunity to minister to patients both physically and spiritually. Britney Jones and Christy Homer, who are in the process of completing their junior year, are exceptional examples of student nurses who represent Liberty in the Lynchburg medical community.
In order to graduate, Jones and Homer are required to complete clinicals at Virginia Baptist Hospital and Lynchburg General Hospital. Clinicals are the equivalent of an internship for other majors. They are given a list of patients to take care of for a certain period of time, then are required to write profiles on each individual to chronicle their condition, treatment and background information. Full-time nurses work closely with students the entire time to ensure accuracy and give encouragement.
“ We have all of the Liberty nursing students coming to Lynchburg General and Virginia Baptist at some point during their curriculum. We have…about 330 students… We are their primary source for clinical rotations in Lynchburg, (and) they do rotate through all specialty areas,” Centra Health Director of Professional Development Endorsing Research Roberta Vick said.
Jones and Homer both agree that their time spent in Lynchburg’s hospitals has been extremely beneficial, and the staff has been helpful throughout the process.
“I have been at Virginia Baptist Hospital this semester on the Medical Surgical floor. My relationship with (the staff) there is so far really good. We work alongside the nurses and (they) have all been so nice and helpful. They treat us students like we are actual nurses,” Homer said.
“For the most part the staff is great … when you are placed with a nurse who is willing to teach you and let you learn, it makes all the difference in how your clinical
However, working in a hospital simply for the sake of working is not all that Jones and Homer focus on when they serve their patients. The spiritual side of service is also on the forefront of their minds, in conjunction with the nursing program’s purpose.
“The purpose of the Liberty University Department of Nursing is to prepare baccalaureate level nurses who are committed to Christian ethical standards and view nursing as a ministry of caring based on the Benner theoretical framework,” according to the Liberty nursing home page.
With this in mind, Jones and Homer look for opportunities during clinicals to minister more than just physically. Jones had the chance to encourage a particular family after they found out a family member had cancer.
“I came in contact with a sweet woman who had just found out her brother had cancer and it was so far spread that they didn’t think they could do anything for him. He wasn’t my patient, but … the day before … this woman had been in the hall crying, so I went over to her and we just hugged and I began crying with her,” Jones said. “I went back and wrote the family a letter and took it to them and we all got in a circle and I prayed for them. It was a touching experience because that side of nursing is what really impacts others. I definitely left clinical that day more touched than I could imagine.”
Jones’ favorite part of nursing is interacting with her patients and learning from the nurses who are on staff. She appreciates the knowledge that her time at Virginia Baptist Hospital has given her.
“I have learned a lot from working in Lynchburg hospitals. Our clinical teachers try their best to give us experiences that will further our knowledge. I also have been able to put a lot of the skills to practice in the hospital that I have learned from our classes in school,” Jones said.
While not every Liberty nursing student is considering staying in Lynchburg for their career, Homer is confident that she would consider working as a nurse locally once she received her resident nurse licensure.
“I want to work at Lynchburg General this summer as a certified nursing assistant because I feel like I would get a lot of experience for my future and get more acclimated to the hospitals I will be doing my clinicals for,” Homer said.
The Lynchburg medical field is inundated with Liberty students who are eager to join the workforce and improve the quality of healthcare that is offered to local residents. The attitude of Liberty’s nursing students, including Jones and Homer, can be summed up in a paragraph found on Homer’s Facebook page.
“Being a nurse isn’t about grades. It’s about being who we are. No book can teach you how to cry with a patient. No class can teach you how to tell a family that their loved one is dying or has died. No professor can teach you how to find dignity in giving someone a bed bath. A nurse is not about the pills, the IV or the charting. It’s about being able to love people when they are at their weakest moments and being able to forgive them for all their wrongs and make a difference in their lives today.