The mission of the School of Nursing is to provide a Christian worldview based experience in nursing education that prepares men and women for a life of service in the profession as a citizen of the City of God while living in the world.
|Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Nursing students served on a mission trip to Haiti during the spring of 2010, after the country's devastating earthquake.|
Empathy for: Empathy leads to action: "Jesus stopped and called them. 'What do you want me to do for you?' he asked. 'Lord,' they answered, 'we want our sight.' Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." – Matthew 20:32-34
Connection to: Our common humanity binds us together. "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." – John 11:33
Being with: Sometimes simply being with another is more important than doing for them: "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" – Luke 10:40-42
|PBA School of Nursing students provide care during a mission trip to Haiti.|
The philosophy of the Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Nursing (SON) reflects the collective beliefs of its faculty regarding the discipline and practice of nursing. The SON faculty believe that the world was created by God in his sovereign power, and that humans were created by God for a special relationship with God. We believe that humans are sinful and are unable to redeem themselves without God’s grace. God sent his Son, Jesus, to reconcile humans to Him. Jesus died on a cross as payment for sins, and God raised him from the dead as a sign that Jesus does have the power to reconcile us to God, forgiving the sins of those who believe in him and giving them a full life in this world and eternal life with God after this world.
This uniquely Christian perspective influences all aspects of our philosophy regarding the study and practice of nursing. The universe was created by God but is cursed because of human sin. General System Theory attempts to explain the universe by using the construct of interacting systems. These systems are in turn comprised of overlapping subsystems. Systems and subsystems interact with one another and may exchange energy, matter, and information. System thinking is useful when explaining natural and human phenomena because it allows the examiner to focus on subsystems or whole systems depending on the need. Dysfunction of one subsystem will affect all other subsystems within a larger system as well as the larger system itself. It is important to keep in mind that System thinking is a somewhat arbitrary perspective imposed on the world that is useful for explaining it, but not necessarily reflective of objective reality.
Thus, the nursing metaparadigm element of environment may be explained using System thinking in terms of the universe as the metasystem made up of galaxies and in turn solar systems. The earth is made up of interacting subsystems including the water cycle, weather patterns, topography, and seismic activity.
The nursing metaparadigm element of person is again explained using System thinking as a system existing within the earth’s larger system. The person in turn is comprised of the interacting of physiological and spiritual systems. The physiological system is comprised of matter taken from the earth. The spiritual system is comprised of God the Creator interacting with humans, the creation, eternally; the spiritual system is distinct from the physiological system and continues to exist after the biological processes of the physiological system cease to function. The interaction of the physiological and spiritual systems is in turn explained by the constructs of psychological, socio-cultural, and developmental systems.
The psychological system includes the consciousness of the person, its cognitive abilities and functions, and emotions. The socio-cultural system represents the interactions of the person with other persons and includes families, communities, and global humanity. The developmental system represents maturation and growth of the person in all four of the other subsystems. Each of these five systems that comprise the person is in turn comprised of further subsystems.
Health and illness can be explained in any number of ways using System thinking. The simplest explanation is the function-dysfunction continuum. If a system is functioning properly, then it is healthy; illness is the presence of dysfunction. The simplicity of this definition is marred by interaction of systems (i.e. dysfunction in one system will cause dysfunction in another system); moreover, dysfunction is usually not absolute, but a matter of degree. Measuring the degree of dysfunction and hence the degree of illness is often a matter of judgment and subjectivity. Another possible explanation of health is one of balance reflected in the concept of homeostasis. A further development of this concept is allostasis, the ability of a system to maintain stability by making adjustments over time in response to changes in the environment (Sterling & Eyer, 1998).
The faculty believes that while dysfunction and balance are important concepts in understanding and measuring health, ultimately health will fail. The universe and humanity are cursed as a result of sin, and the consequence is ultimately physiological death. Health must be interpreted within this framework. Because the spirit continues on after physiological death, ultimate health is gained by acceptance of God’s provision of grace in Jesus, ensuring that the spiritual system will remain in communion with God for eternity. Illness and death are part of a natural process and are to be expected.
Nursing is the discipline dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of human responses to illness. The responses to illness are addressed on the individual and collective levels. Despite the best efforts of the healthcare system, illness and death are inevitable and should be accepted as such, but should not be treated fatalistically. Suffering should be addressed and ameliorated if possible. Health should be enhanced; illness and disease should be prevented and treated. The nurse must have broad education in history, science, culture, and philosophy to be able to adequately address the large issues of death, illness, health, and suffering. Additionally the nurse requires specialized knowledge from psychology, physiology, healthcare, and nursing itself. System thinking is particularly useful, because it allows a variety of pertinent theories to be used depending on the system or systems being analyzed or acted upon.
Knowledge and research findings in these areas are constantly changing, and the nursing education process should not only impart the tools to be able to evaluate new knowledge, but must instill the desire to acquire new knowledge and engender the discipline to do so. The amount of specialized knowledge required by nurses is so great that it must be absorbed over time. Nursing requires not only recall and understanding of the knowledge, but requires application, synthesis, and evaluation in practice. The educational process must keep this in mind and allow for the gradual acquisition of knowledge and development of clinical skills in keeping with Patricia Benner’s Stages of Clinical Competence (1984).
In addition to knowledge, nursing education must also develop character, particularly integrity, caring, and love. Integrity is reflected not only in truth telling, in accountability and the power to avoid compromising values and professional standards in spite of external pressures. Caring encompasses the nurse’s empathy for and connection with the patient, as well as the ability to translate these affective characteristics into compassionate, sensitive, appropriate care (AACN, 1998). Love desires the best for other persons. It is manifested in two seemingly opposing manners (Smalley & Trent, 2006). One side may be characterized as soft and is describe as compassion, caring, and empathy. The other side may be characterized as hard and includes maintaining standards of behavior and accountability. Nurses must hold the two sides of love in balance or risk being soft and ineffective at one extreme or harsh and authoritarian at the other. Effective nursing education should expose students to caring and both sides of love throughout their education. The outcome of the baccalaureate nursing education process at Palm Beach Atlantic University is a competent nurse who is reflective, inquiring, and is able to apply nursing theory, the nursing process, and technical nursing skills within the context of the Christian worldview while recognizing the global, pluralistic nature of society.
A School of Nursing baccalaureate program outcomes graduate will: