Article Content

Ideas for Educators[horizontal ellipsis] use content of this JCN with your students.


* Nursing Cameos (pp. 38-48): Compare and contrast the lessons learned about nursing from the personal experiences of these students and nurses.


* TV Nurses (pp. 32-42): Write the script for a one-minute TV spot or letter to the editor (newspaper, popular magazine, Christian publication) promoting nursing, or prepare script to use with eighth graders to convey nursing as a positive career option. (issues course or senior seminar)


* After Katrina (pp. 49-53): Identify and discuss management principles used by Shelly. Which of these were specifically related to her Christian faith? (leadership/management course)


* Magnet Nursing (pp. 26-28): Discuss the "forces of magnetism" and delineate three actions that could be taken to implement each "force" in a practice setting. (senior-level course)



Recently, I was asked if it is legal for nursing faculty in public institutions to pray with students. I researched academic freedom and found nothing published that would limit prayer with students. However, this question initiated a cascade of questions. Is there a place for prayer in relating to students? How might prayer influence the faculty-student relationship? Would students want faculty to pray with them? Are there guidelines for praying with students?


In pondering these questions, I realized that this was a topic for faculty development-far too extensive for this brief column. Here my intent is to introduce a few ideas, invite your responses for a future article or possibly a workshop and share the experience of one educator.


National polls indicate that 99% of Americans report praying, and at least half of these pray once or more daily. Thus students are personally familiar with the concept of prayer when it is introduced as one of many holistic nursing interventions. What are the pros and cons of modeling prayer with students as we do other nursing procedures? I leave this question with you and digress to a few personal observations.


What a phenomenal resource we have in being able to bring students and their needs to Jehovah-Jireh, the perfect Provider (Gen 22). We can always bring our students before God in personal prayer, but sometimes it is appropriate to pray with students. Knowing when to pray with a student requires careful assessment of the student and of your motives. Be sensitive to the fact that praying with a student changes the student-faculty relationship, which already involves a degree of vulnerability, exposing the student to even greater vulnerability.


In searching for literature on praying with students, I found very few resources. But I came upon one gem, a personal example from Dr. Verna Benner Carson, a former nurse educator and expert on spirituality in nursing:


As my Christian growth continued, it increasingly spilled over into my faculty role. Because I taught in a state-supported university, I was careful not to evangelize students, but the Lord helped me to find other ways to let students know that I was a Christian. For instance, I asked each clinical group if we could start our day with prayer-either silent or spoken, whichever form group members were more comfortable with. In twenty years only one student expressed discomfort with prayer. When I responded that I did not want to make her ill at ease and that I would eliminate the prayer, she replied that it would be unfair to deprive her peers of something that was important to them and asked me to continue while she stepped out of the room. [horizontal ellipsis] The prayers helped break down the barriers that so often stand between faculty and students. I was looked upon as someone who really cared about students, not just someone whose job it was to evaluate them. Consequently, many students sought me out for both personal and spiritual counsel.1


What questions do you have about praying with students? What experiences would you like to share? I have started a dialog. Write to me at to continue the conversation.


1 Verna Benner Carson, "A Life Journey with Jesus," in Professors Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of Christian Faculty, ed Paul M. Anderson, 99 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998). [Context Link]