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The link between caring and nursing has been evident since the days of Florence Nightingale. She referred to nursing as an act of charity or "God's work." Nursing within the Judea-Christian tradition was viewed as a mission, ministry or call from God to serve others. Those entering nursing fulfilled a commitment to God through service and care for others. Over time the focus in nursing shifted from the Christian perspective of being "called to be a nurse" to technical and physio­logical reasons for helping people. Virginia Henderson defined nursing as "that service to an individual that helps him to attain or maintain a healthy state of mind or body.'' In recent years the concept of caring has reemerged within nursing but from a different worldview. The theoretical basis for caring includes humanistic and Eastern philosophies.At the same time, the connection of caring in nursing with Christian beliefs has been diluted, ignored and often excluded. Change is the norm in the current dynamic health care envi­ronment. With change comes the challenge to redesign curricula to educate future nurses. As the curriculum of our school of nursing was reorganized, the faculty made a commitment to make our Christian heritage and values more explicit. We recognized the significance of working at a private, religiously affiliated university, where Christian educa­tion was a priority. Based on that commitment, we incorporated into the design of the nursing curriculum a Christian caring environment and Christian caring activities, which helped students to identify their personal beliefs and values, to recognize how Christian caring can be shown in nursing and to develop their own Christian caring philosophy.


Originally published in Journal of Christian Nursing. 1998. Volume 15. Issue 3. Pages 26-31.