Reminiscence From a Retired Nurse

For those of you too young to remember I will share a story from nursing school; when we attended class at the hospital! My story begins with my joy of being Lutheran and my love for nursing. I was able to hold onto both even as I attended classes at Milwaukee County General Hospital in their School of Nursing. My joy came from the interaction we had with Pastor Arnold Schroeder, who was the Chaplain at the hospital. He was the original model for what is now known as “Institutional Ministries” in the WELS. He was fantastic with the patients, and we were also blessed to have him as a guest lecturer each year (yes, even for a public education program). The focus of his talk with us was how we could serve God through our careers. To be a Lutheran and have one of our pastors come and give such an inspiring message made me so proud and feeling blessed. Pastor Schroeder was truly a gifted speaker.

Years later as I was working as a nurse on a psychiatric unit, the words of Pastor Schroeder became very useful. The patients were challenging, the staff very supportive and yet we all struggled to keep going some days. I was known to many as the “WELS lady,” as I shared the joy of my faith, my church family in Muskego, and the happiness I felt by singing in the choir. There were other Lutherans on staff from St. Philip’s in Milwaukee and we must have made an impression on people as there was a real effort made by them to act in both word and deed in a Christian manner. I know that approaching our work from this viewpoint helped us find ways to bring peace to the unit and could feel more confident in our own safety. At the time, while still in school, I didn’t understand how writing a spiritual assessment for my patients would be a vital skill in my career. I approached this part of the care plan from my Lutheran faith and am so grateful to have had this foundation, and I am sure is why I received A’s.

By Gail Maxwell, RN
(edited by Wendy Crary-with permission)