Spiritual Care of Nurses

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The beginnings of nursing can be traced back to many ancient cultures, such as those in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Israel. In its early years, nursing was closely entwined with religious orders and faith communities. During the Christian crusades, nursing orders such as the knight of st. John, the Teutonic knights and the knights of st. Lazarus was established, persisting even today. Individual deacons, deaconesses, and roman matrons cared for sick individuals and were instrumental in the organization and building places for the sick. Thus, nurses have provided spiritual care together with physiological care in religious communities in a variety of ways for century.1 Religion has played an important part in the development of nursing as a profession. Florence Nightingale, known to many as the founder of modern nursing, has been described as receiving a “call” to nursing through divine and spiritual revelation. The first school of nursing, Nightingale school of nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London, was established at a religiously affiliated institution where spiritual care and nursing were practiced hand in hand.2 Spiritual care can be a natural part of total care which fits easily into the nursing process of assessment, nursing diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. Placing spiritual need and spiritual care within this framework, has proved to be very helpful, for both philosophical and practical reasons. Firstly spiritual care can become more tangible as well as more assessable. And secondly, the types of knowledge utilized by the Nursing Process - practice wisdom, ethics of practice, and scientific knowledge (Ziegler et al, 1986:14-18) - are all relevant to assessing spiritual needs and planning spiritual care. It can also then be documented in nursing care plans, to ensure a continuity of care.3 (http://members.tripod.com/~Marg_Hutchison/nurse1.html) For many, religion is a way to express their spirituality, to cope, or to transcend. Research...
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