1. Diggins, Kristene

Article Content

Although I am an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), I am a nurse first and foremost. For a season, I thought I wanted to be a physician. However, like many APRNs, I became a wife and mother after a few years as a registered nurse. With each subsequent responsibility, my desire to pursue medical school translated into a stair-step approach in my nursing career. Like other APRNs, God continued to open the door for me to pursue advanced practice in nursing and graduate school. In my case, this was through work in international missions. I saw patients on the mission field, while pursuing my advanced practice degree. With time, I found the role of APRN as the best fit. My patients helped me understand the value of the nurse-central role of the APRN. This was most evident during a recent medical trip to Africa.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

I was assigned to care for a woman in a community clinic, who was dying of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Although I could do nothing for this young woman as a healthcare provider, I felt compelled to sit and hold her hand. As I did so, I was reminded that as a nurse, I was a nurturer first. In that moment, I was prompted by the care focus from my nursing background. Sitting next to this woman, I felt God nudging me to sit still with her indefinitely. I prayed with her and waited for the hospital transportation. The decision had already been made to make her comfortable for her last days. In those moments beside her, I was clearly the one being blessed by sitting with her. The value of the nursing role was keen that day. As APRNs, we are given opportunities to love unconditionally and to allow that love to be a part of who we are. Opportunities require the responsibility of following through because, as is noted in Luke 12:48, to whom much is given, much is required.


Literature abounds on the transition that takes place as the RN adopts the APRN role. The transition to practice is full of challenges to develop and learn one's role as a primary healthcare provider (Foundation for Nursing Excellence, 2016). From my experience, the empowerment to own the role of a healthcare provider, as a nurturing nurse, comes from God's love for me. Through him, my needs are nurtured, and I am cared for as he makes provisions. I wonder if this type of empowerment might change how we practice as APRNs. As we recognize the differences of our role as nurses first and foremost, we can differentiate ourselves and develop confidence in how we practice (Foundation for Nursing Excellence). It is the bedside nursing approach that we carry with us into our role as APRNs; sitting with our patients and holding their hands as we provide for their needs holistically defines the APRN.


For the Christian APRN, we are Christians first, nurses second, and advanced practice nurses third. Our work can exemplify this collaborative role to go beyond our role as a primary provider, to the heart of nursing. We have an outstanding opportunity to be central in the care of our patients, caring for the needs that others may not see. As nurses, we are there to nurture the whole person, as front and center of the care we provide. The woman in Africa left me reflecting that it was God's hand in my life that led me to being a nurse provider, rather than a physician. My heart is one of a nurturing nurse, with a desire to be by the patient's bedside throughout his/her journey. Recognizing and serving with this unique perspective affords the most joy in my role.


Individually and collectively, we improve the quality of care. As we stand tall in our various roles, we have opportunity to provide the best possible care for every patient. As APRNs, we offer a unique nurse-provider contribution for each patient, whether in a local clinic or on a global mission.


Foundation for Nursing Excellence, Nurse Practitioner Transition to Practice Initiative. (2016). NP transition to practice final report. Retrieved from http:// [Context Link]