1. Mauk, Kristen L.

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In May 1981, about 100 of us in our serious, crisp white nursing uniforms and starched white caps recited the Nightingale Pledge. As the sun streamed through the stained glass windows onto the broad steps of the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University in Indiana, we stood in front of a crowd of thousands of family members and friends, energized to enter the world of nursing and be enlightened world-changers of the profession. Now, 42 years later, I reflect not only on the history of our nursing profession, but also on my own calling to nursing as ministry.

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I didn't always want to be a nurse. I was more drawn to medicine, but in the time of decisions for college majors, my father, a noted pediatric surgeon, advised me not to go into medicine unless you want it more than anything in the world. Medicine was still male-dominated; nursing was seen as the more desirable profession for women. As a Christian, I felt that I could balance a career in nursing with eventually becoming a wife and mother, all worthy and compelling vocations to which I also felt called.


And that is what I did. I took dad's advice and entered a BSN program. I eventually became a wife, mother to eight children, nursing professor, and author. I embraced the desire to continue as a lifelong learner, going back to school for a master's in nursing, and after entering academe, pursued a PhD and a DNP with a postmaster's gerontological nurse practitioner certificate.


My nursing career has spanned 4 decades and taken me from the bedside to academia to writing textbooks to becoming a journal editor and to international consulting in several countries. I have used my years of experience in rehabilitation and gerontological nursing to help other countries develop curricula in these areas. In addition to the thousands of students I have mentored and taught through the years, I was honored to help establish the forthcoming first global rehabilitation nursing certification. God has used my entire nursing journey to change and influence patient care for the good, serving those with disabilities worldwide through the education, training, and certification of nurses in rehabilitation.


When I stood in the campus chapel at graduation years ago and recited the Nightingale Pledge, little did I know the path God had in store. I remember teaching a rehabilitation nursing course in China a few years ago, with the feeling washing over me that all the decisions and paths taken over my entire time as a nurse had culminated beautifully in that moment: God opening opportunities to share my knowledge with countries in their infancy in my areas of specialty.


How often does a nurse live to see the fruits of his or her labor? We may rejoice when our students continue their education and become nurse educators to teach the next generation. We hope that somewhere we have shown enough expert care and kindness to our patients to carry them through difficult times. We hope that we have left a lasting impression in our professional lives. Although some words of that nursing pledge repeated long ago may not be relevant to today's practice, I can say honestly that I have devoted myself to the welfare of those entrusted to my care and practiced my profession faithfully.


In this special historical-themed issue of JCN, we are delighted to have compiled articles on the history of important topics in our development: nursing ethics, men in nursing, nursing education, the Sisters of Mercy, and the first U.S. hospital-based hospice. Designed to coincide with Nurse's Week 2023 in May, this issue of the journal is dedicated to examining our past-where we came from-and giving recommendations for our future as Christian nurses leading the profession. Readers should enjoy the unique art in each article as well as the timeline that runs through several articles, providing a glance at important events in the history of nursing. Please share this carefully planned issue with your nursing friends and may it be a blessing to all who read it.


Let's be encouraged by our rich nursing history, and with the words from Hebrews 10:23 (NIV), "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."