Four Mormon Nurses Report

Besides being concerned about your eternal life, the Church is very much concerned about your life here and now. In fact, the Church is so interested in helping you reach your full potential and fill your dreams that several important programs are now underway:

1. You are now being asked in your personal achievement interviews to discuss several times a year your occupational hopes and plans with the bishop and his counselors.

2. You are encouraged to develop a personal file, part of which should be on jobs and careers in which you are interested.

3. An Educational and Career Advisement Center has been established to which you can personally write for information about careers, schools, technical colleges, universities, and so forth.

4. Beginning this month the New Era will print—perhaps as often as every other month—articles on careers, which you can file in your personal file. Questions frequently asked and their answers will also be printed to give widespread help.

These articles will be written in cooperation with the Educational and Career Advisement Center personnel: William R. Siddoway, administrator, who will serve as a New Era contributing editor, Elwood R. Peterson, director of guidance; and Lynn E. Johnson, director of educational information.

If you would like to write the advisement center, address your letter to: Educational and Career Advisement Center, A-152 ASB, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84601.

To find out what Latter-day Saint nurses think of nursing, the New Era interviewed four Mormon nurses: Lillian DeYoung, director of St. Luke’s School of Nursing, Aurora, Colorado; Sylvia Mabey, a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital nursery in New York City; Marilyn Nash, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles; and Verla B. Collins, assistant commissioner for nursing, Church Health Services, Salt Lake City.

Nursing—immediate impressions:

“The most valuable part of nursing is that you really end up serving people. It’s strenuous and demanding, yet a satisfying job.”—Lillian

“It is a great career for the Latter-day Saint girl. To me there is nothing like motherhood and nursing to exemplify the gospel. But you have to care about people, and you have to find happiness in bringing comfort to others.”—Marilyn

“A good nurse must be willing to see people at their worst. She must also be a good listener, a good empathizer, and be able to look beneath the surface.”—Sylvia

“Nursing is basic to so many things that a girl can go into in life. But for wives and mothers, it is a very good field, because the role of nurse adds to motherhood, and motherhood contributes to nursing.”—Sister Collins

Thoughts about nursing as a vocation:

“It has given me great satisfaction, but I see the need to educate potential nurses to be caring types of individuals. As for the pay, salaries are finally becoming quite good, and I see more men coming into the field. There are quite a few now, which is something most people don’t know. It’s very important to have men in this field, because so many girls tend to leave when marriage and family come along.”—Lillian

“I would advise that if a person has a chance to get a four-year bachelor’s degree, he should do it. The two-year hospital programs are good, but the baccalaureate degree lets you do more in the field, no matter how you may rationalize otherwise. However, everyone has to examine his own condition, because not every program is right for every person.

“A nurse sees many tragedies and sorrows. One time I took care of a young man who was dying. His wife was pregnant with their fourth child. I had the privilege of teaching her how to care for him and her children. Part of nursing is being able to teach others. I’ve learned that without the gospel in my life, my attitude might be callous. The saddest thing is to see so many people who could view things so differently if they only understood the gospel plan. I try to share what I can. I’ve had people say things that touch me deeply, such as, ‘Oh, you’re a Mormon. That’s why you’re so kind.’”—Marilyn

“A person in secondary school who is considering nursing should enjoy math and science and should definitely work as a volunteer in a hospital or clinic before going into training. That’s always a good way to see if everything clicks.”—Sylvia

“The area from which I think the potential leader in nursing will come is in the four-year baccalaureate programs. These students often go into research, obtain faculty positions at other schools, or end up as directors of nursing; and, of course, many find positions in rehabilitation, therapy, and public health.

“On a personal note, I’d say that one of the greatest impacts that the gospel has had on my nursing career is in the acceptance of death, our recognition of faith, and our understanding of eternal life. The gospel also teaches respect for the human body, for a person’s self-worth and self-image. For a nurse, I can’t think of a more basic and wholesome and sound foundation upon which to build a wonderful experience.”—Sister Collins

What about the present areas of moral concern that affect nursing?

“As everyone knows, abortions are now becoming quite prevalent, as are sterilizations. When I first went into nursing, these weren’t big concerns, but they are now, and Latter-day Saint nurses have to contend with them. First of all, it’s a fact that nurses are exposed to conditions that they often don’t agree with. But directors of nursing are generally of the conviction that nurses should be given the choice of involvement at the time of hiring. If a nurse does not wish to participate, she should not be forced to do so. It’s more of a problem and concern than people realize. Recently I heard of one hospital that actually has more abortions than live births. Every Latter-day Saint nurse must make the decision herself as to whether she will participate in such operations and should then make those feelings known to her supervisors. Every nurse should know that many nurses who have assisted in abortions report having feelings of guilt, even though they had no control over what was going on.

“Another decision that becomes quite personal is the decision to stop drugs when someone is hopelessly ill—that is, stop life-supporting drugs. This often occurs in a cancer case when an elderly patient has suffered so much that he has no incentive to live. The doctor must make a decision, and it is generally entered into with the family. It’s not a decision as to when life should be destroyed, but rather whether drugs should continue to support life or whether the natural processes of the body should be allowed to take their course. Some people often say that doctors and nurses don’t have the right to make such decisions. But many doctors and nurses have said that they do not have the right to deny a patient the right to die, either. Fortunately, this decision is generally beyond the responsibility of a nurse, but it is one in which she ultimately participates. Nurses are exposed to this kind of thing weekly, as well as to heroic measures taken to bring back life. A Latter-day Saint definitely enters into nursing with a frame of understanding that greatly assists in maintaining balance and perspective.”—Sister Collins

[illustrations] Illustrated by Jolyn Borges