A New Normal – Our Students’ Experience
By Dr. Nancy Fields
During this critical time in our nation’s history, we are mindful that we are in a “new normal.” Dr. Tamara Henry, Vice President Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, at a recent Open House shared that this is a season of challenge as well as opportunity. How appropriate were Dean Henry’s words! Our late president, John F. Kennedy famously said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger and one represents opportunity.”[i] While a later report revealed that President Kennedy’s words may not have been interpreted corrected, they may ease our fears and open us up to the possibilities of unexpected benefits this moment in our history can bring.
When one of our recent graduates, Lisa Anderson, answered the call, she understood that a call to serve is a call to prepare. Her sort guidance from her pastor and, after much prayer, enrolled in our Certificate in Ministry program. In 2015, she graduated and received the Dean’s Award—without stopping, she continued and applied to our Master of Divinity program!
For Lisa, among the many courses, our Foundations of Chaplaincy Ministry elective course gave her the chance to develop her pastoral/spiritual care competence, reflection, as well as hone skills in pastoral/spiritual care. She learned to observe, respond appropriately to those she served and, more importantly, she became aware of her own reactions, thoughts, feelings, and impressions during encounters. Finally, she fulfilled her clinical visitation requirements at Vassar Brother Medical Center where she works as a senior secretary for the Nursing and Professional Development department.
Recently, out of the blue, Lisa was approached by her supervisor. She was asked to create and facilitate a Spiritual Care course for her department. Her responsibility would be to prepare a curriculum that will cover topics such as: What is spiritual care in nursing? What is the role of spiritual care in nursing care of a patient? What is the importance of nurses identifying spiritually with the patients? At the end of their talk, her supervisor added, “I have faith in you and know that you can do it!”
I am excited to report that Lisa accepted the challenge and is prepared to embrace this opportunity. In her words, “Thank you LORD; Thank you NYTS!”