Life as a Faith-Based Nursing Student

Last Updated/Verified: Sep 29, 2020

Nursing school has been described as one of the most challenging bachelor's degrees to earn in a four-year span. Those who have survived spin tales of numerous exams covering thousands of body parts, illnesses, diseases, dynamics, and social psychology not to mention the hours and hours of time spent in clinical rotation performing tasks and procedures that are not appropriate for dinner conversations. Yet those who pass through this fire and come out of the other side with the RN behind their name have accomplished what many could not. For the students in faith-based institutions, religion plays a considerable role in the daily routine.

Most nursing students are still completing non-nursing courses along with the required nursing program. In many faith-based schools such as Pacific Union College (PUC) near Napa, California, students are expected to complete religion-focused courses for all humanities requirements. For example, secular colleges provide a vast choice of courses in wide subject matters for electives whereas faith-based schools may offer limited electives that are not focused on religious studies. Electives include courses such as "The Life and Times of Jesus" or "The Christian Scholar."

In addition to the nursing coursework, labs and clinical rotations that may require long commutes, many faith-based nursing schools require students to attend a certain number of chapel and worship hours each semester or quarter. Students who fail to attend the required hours can be denied registration for future terms or be placed on academic probation.

Some faith-based colleges expect students to live on-campus during their time at the institution. At PUC, for example, students who are under age 22 and unmarried or without children are expected to reside on campus. The male and female dormitories are separated, not just by building, but by geography as well. Students are expected to be in their dorm rooms by 10 PM during the week and by midnight on the weekends. In accordance with the doctrine and beliefs of the faith of the school, males and females are not allowed in one another's dorm rooms.

This conservative environment can be viewed as both frustrating and reassuring to adult students earning an education. Many nurses who attended faith-based programs are very satisfied with the overall college experience and nursing studies of their institution. Starting class with a prayer of having the ability to speak openly about one's faith can be a comfort for the hectic world of a nursing student. Prospective students should make themselves fully aware of the environment and expectations of the school prior to committing finances and time for a degree.

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Catherine Burger, RN, BS, MSOL, NEA-BC
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