In my work as a hospice instructor, I received many questions from students who were pastors of the local churches. They said they yearned for feedback from nurses who witnessed the visitations of many Ministers. They wanted to know how Ministers were viewed as a member of the health care team. They wondered what visiting methods the nurses saw as being most helpful to patients. They wanted to know how they might best relate to the nurses to gain their confidence. Many also asked for tips about their personal concerns regarding their reactions to the hospital and trauma setting.
At the same time, several of the hospitals I was working with asked me to prepare in-service material that would benefit pastors of local churches. To gather this material, I interviewed nurses in clinical areas for their insights. I felt the information they offered was remarkable and invaluable. I added my recommendations to the second half of this presentation and that is how this manuscript came about.
The patient's Minister is based outside the medical complex. This makes difficult the Minister's inclusion into the team causing barriers to exist between the medical team and the personal Minister. There is lack of common turf, common language, and common interaction with the patient. As a result, the Minister often feels alienated. These same barriers make it frustrating for nurses to find, identify, and interact with the Minister about issues common to both Minister and nurse.
Nurse supervisors were interviewed for their perspectives on the Minister as part of the health care team and to gain insights into what would help build bridges between the Minister and the other members of the health care team. These nurses came from specialty areas, as well as from medical-surgical units, and were usually responsive to the Minister's concerns.
The following questions were asked:
- What is the Minister's role as a member of the health care team?
- What is the meaning of the Minister's role to you as a nurse?
- What successful methods do you see Ministers use to carry out spiritual responsibility?
- How do you relate to Ministers?
- How would you like the Ministers to relate to you?
- What would you like Ministers to do to relate more effectively to your patients?
- What can Ministers do when they feel repulsed by what they are experiencing?