In discussing the co-ordination of medical work with missionary activity in the training of nurses, we must presume that the personnel of our institutions have a well-defined vision of the purposes and objectives for which our sanitariums have been founded. For, rightly understood, the spiritual activities and accomplishments of a sanitarium constitute the real and vital purpose of its existence. However startling it may sound, it is signally true that a sanitarium may literally pile up colossal profits, operate on exceptionally low unit costs, and technically train student nurses to be proficient in asepsis and skillful in procedure, and yet that institution may be a total failure in so far as God's design for it is concerned.
We might ask, When has a sanitarium had a good year? Is it when its patronage has exceeded previous records? Is it when its popularity has widened and reached the farthest? Is it when all its debts have been liquidated, and it has accumulated substantial reserves? Is it when its equipment is modern and superior? Can it be when its personnel and teaching staff are the strongest that can be selected for the technical and clinical treatment of disease? To be influenced or swayed by such considerations, worthy and salutary as they must of necessity be, is but to confess openly that we have lost our sense of true values and discarded the prophetic blueprint according to which the Great Physician evaluates our institutions. God has clearly enunciated His purpose and design for olir medical work in the following quotations :
"The great object of this institution should be to improve the health of the body that the afflicted may more highly appreciate eternal things. If this object is not continually set before the mind, and efforts are not made to this end, it will prove a curse instead of a blessing, spirituality will be regarded as a secondary thing, and the health of the body and diversion will be made primary."—"Testimonies," Vol. 1, p. 564.
"The great object of receiving unbelievers into the institution is to lead them to embrace the truth."—Id., p. 560.
"Let every means be devised to bring about the saving of souls in our medical institutions. This is our work. If the spiritual work is left undone, there is no necessity of calling upon our people to build these institutions."—"Medical Ministry," p. 191.
With such a vision of our health work, should not the soul-winning activities of our student nurses occupy a major part of their training? Should not the entire staff of doctors, instructors, and supervisors co-operate in fostering the work of training the student nurse in the art of personal evangelism? Would not the great Medical Missionary consider this the most important part of any nurse's equipment for her lifework, rather than a side line?
Among the very first class periods of the freshman nurse, ample time and consideration should deliberately be given to impart the heavenly vision of what God expects, together with the possibilities that such a program may accomplish in soul winning. Details of the proper spiritual approach should be carefully discussed and demonstrated until the nurse will not be awkward in the fine science of tactfully leading up to offering a simple, yet comforting and encouraging, prayer at the bedside.
During the first month of training at least one hour should be spent by the freshman nurse in serving as the chaplain's visiting nurse, until each member of the class has had the experience of observing how an experienced soul winner makes the proper spiritual approach. After each nurse has had this initial foretaste, then she should spend at least one week during the rest of her first year, assisting the chaplain as he welcomes each patient to the institution from day to day.
The daily "Admission and Departure" report is used to make up a list of all bed patients. (The ambulatory patients are welcomed by the chaplain in the lobby, parlor, or dining room without the assistance of a visiting nurse.) The chaplain and the nurse now begin their room visitation. While the chaplain remains in the hall, the nurse knocks, enters the room and cheerily greets the patient by name. She then fluffs the pillow, obtains a fresh glass of water, if needed, and then quietly and pleasantly remarks that the sanitarium chaplain is making his morning (or afternoon) rounds, welcoming the new patients to the institution. "Would you like to have him step in?" the nurse asks.
If the patient indicates that the chaplain will be welcome, then the nurse invites him in and introduces him to the patient. (Ninety-eight percent of the patients appreciate such a visit.) Well-thought-out words are spoken, usually ending in a brief season of prayer that is seldom over one minute long. The entire visit rarely takes over three to five minutes.
Several days later the supervisor, who is equally interested in soul winning, casually asks each new patient: "Has our chaplain been in to see you yet, Mr. Smith? Did you enjoy his visit ? Would you like to have him call again?" If the chaplain does call again, we call these "repeat visits," and they are somewhat longer than the initial visit. All receive the initial "welcoming visit," but the "repeat visit" is made only upon the patient's request to the supervisor. We are always careful not to leave the impression that we are forcing ourselves upon the patients, neither do we ever consent to talk our peculiar doctrines to patients until after they themselves invite us to.
Special emphasis is placed upon the "goodnight prayer," when the nurse, during the "P. M. care," prepares the patient for retirement. After the last thing has been done for the patient's comfort, the nurse may say, "Now are you comfortable, Mrs, Jones ? Is there anything more that I can do for you?"
When the patient indicates that everything has been attended to, the nurse might say : "There is one thing I would like to suggest if you are willing, Mrs. Jones." Naturally, Mrs. Jones inquires, "What may that be?" Whereupon, the nurse then says : "I would like to pray that God will grant you a good night's rest, and make you well. May I, Mrs. Jones?" This approach is only suggestive, as other and better methods will naturally present themselves as the nurse grows in experience.
Such a suggestion for prayer is almost always accepted. Frequently the patient will thereafter say to the nurse: "Now let us not forget our prayer before you leave, Miss Brown." The patients expect it and depend upon it. It is one of the bright spots in their stay, and follows them the rest of their lives.
The junior nurses, during the time they are taking the class in personal evangelism, are encouraged to be on the lookout for any manifestation of interest in our special truths. This can sometimes be appraised by noticing whether or not the patients are reading any of our books or magazines. Each room is provided with "Steps to Christ," "Ministry of Healing," and a Bible, as well as the Signs of the Times. Occasionally the nurse will call attention to this message-filled literature, so that it is not overlooked by the patient.
Another aid in developing an interest is the sanitarium broadcast of spiritual and doctrinal subjects. Patients can be reminded tactfully by being asked, "Have you ever listened to morning worship over the address system ? Are your earphones working properly?" Or, "Do you enjoy the singing in morning worship ?"
Whenever a patient is seen reading books or magazines, or taking interest either in the devotional sermons broadcast from the parlor or in the evangelistic sermons which are broadcast from the chapel, then the nurse seeks to make appointments for Bible studies. Bible studies in the rooms are encouraged and given.
After guests leave the sanitarium, we continue taking the message to them. Our junior nurses are organized into groups of three for the holding of cottage meetings. One of the group acts as master of ceremonies, or leader. Her duties are to open the meeting, announce the song, which is sung from the portable screen, introduce the various parts of the program, and give the benediction. A second one in the group gives a twenty-minute illustrated health talk. A third follows with a twenty-minute Bible study, also using the stereopticon. The entire program lasts only one hour. These groups continue until the former patient is baptized if possible. The cottage meetings are continued into the senior year.
Thus the nurses are thereby schooled and trained in the definite endeavor personally to win souls to Christ, and wholeheartedly to contribute their part to the finishing of the work of God in the earth. This training while in the institution includes three years of soul-winning endeavor. The nurses are thus equipped and prepared to become self-supporting medical missionaries or conference medical missionary evangelistic workers of experience.
Fundamental to all our spiritual endeavors for our patients is the efficient, kind, courteous, sympathetic, and tender care they receive, from the moment they enter the institution until they leave.