Compassion, love, mercy, empathy, and sacrifice are the revealed blessings of a new parish nurse. But what about budget, agenda, servant leader, and building community? How about missed opportunity, grief, or regret? As a new parish nurse these are unspoken areas I struggled with.
I asked a parish nurse friend, Carrie, what she wished she knew as a new parish nurse. Carrie stated, “listening, praying with members, offering prayer support were positive surprises.” She also discovered “becoming part of their family and investing into members lives” impressed her in a special way. Carrie was surprised “by how much I loved the people.”
For example, Carrie shared this story of a mother who came to her after she saved her daughter’s life. The daughter came to Carrie to have her blood pressure checked at church. The daughter’s blood pressure was so elevated Carrie insisted she immediately go to the hospital. Reluctantly, she left and was admitted to the hospital for one week for blood pressure control. Carrie’s quick intervention and genuine concern for her probably saved her life.
Another new parish nurse responsibility I was clueless about was planning and leading a meeting. I certainly sat through plenty of meetings but now I had to navigate it myself. I panicked. I choked up. Then I contacted a teacher friend, Tracy, who educated me on running a meeting. She took time walking me through the meeting process while covering all the details. Clara, a parish nurse friend, had similar challenges. She additionally felt “learning to delegate and taking full responsibility” were new opportunities for growth. Yes, these new things we learn and improve with time but a parish nurse course on meetings and leadership would have produced less stress. As parish nurses, we are able to take it one step further by using prayer, reading God’s Word, and trusting in the Lord as our strongest tools to help us serve Him.
I had all these struggles listed above when I started but what took me by surprise was regret. I didn’t think regret would be on my list of “I wish I knew.” A few years ago, Tara, who was very dedicated parish nurse served at our church. She worked third shift in an inner-city ICU hospital. Tara would come in after work to perform blood pressure screenings or help us with a church health fair. One Sunday, she shared how she was having heart problems and was busy hand-picking the surgical staff for her upcoming surgery. I was impressed with her optimism going into heart surgery. Sadly, that was our last conversation. The Lord called her to our Heavenly home. I felt so disappointed to have missed the opportunity to genuinely thank her for serving. I had to let the rest go. Thankfulness is something I needed to learn as a new parish nurse and wasn’t something I could appreciate from a textbook.
How about you? Tell me about your list of “I wish I knew” as a new or seasoned parish nurse. How would “I wish I knew” motivate you today or next year? What learning experiences or boundaries are you willing to share to mentor a new parish nurse? However long or short your list of struggles might be, we can trust the Lord when he calls us to the ministry that he will equip us (…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21). We can be assured from his Word that he hears and answers our prayers, in his sovereign way, for our good and his great glory (Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12). Soak up his generous grace. Look to the Lord for your strength, discernment, and source of wisdom, as we minister at church and to the community. Ultimately, let us trust the Lord with the outcome. Lord’s blessing as you serve the members and our Beautiful Savior!
By Heidi Gilbert-Then PN
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