Director of Christian Science Nurses Training — Sharon Strong

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2020 was a year full of activity! Due to restrictions on travel, much was accomplished using electronic means such as Zoom for conducting classes. This enabled us to fulfil Mrs. Eddy’s recommendation that “… students stay within their own fields of labor, to work for the race; they are lights that cannot be hid, and need only to shine from their home summits to be sought and found as healers physical and moral” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 302:32).

In October 2019, I traveled to another facility to instruct a Level 1 student who had been a surgeon in another country. Her mentor audited the class to better support her during on-job training.

In November 2019, a Level 1 class was taught at Fern Lodge with four students—two from Uganda, one from Kenya, plus one working at Twelveacres. Each has an inspired thought, a loving heart, skillful hands, and a joyous, helpful spirit. All patients and staff love them!

In January 2020, George and I traveled to Anchorage, Alaska (yes, brrr!!) to give a class specifically designed to help church members care for each other in home settings, which are often in remote areas. Students came from Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Fairbanks, Homer, and Kodiak. Richard, our gracious host, lodged us in his home which dazzled us with exquisite views of the surrounding Kenai mountains. Class convened in a spacious, scenic breezeway where we reviewed ethics and care principles of Christian Science nursing with seven women. In a large bedroom, we practiced a wide range of skills and products needed in bed care, such as slide sheets, proper positioning, pillow arrangements, bed shampoos, mechanical lifters, review of walkers and wheelchairs, and an introduction to cleansing and bandaging. Most attendees had taken several Christian Science nursing workshops given by Fern Lodge and Sunrise Haven in the past three years, so the daily inspiration and skills built on these concepts and ethics.

Three Christian Science practitioners (one of which was a Committee on Publication) took that class. We were so impressed that they also wanted to learn skills that would enable them to provide practical assistance to fellow church members. The character of these hardy Alaskans is awe-inspiring: they are self-sufficient, innovative, industrious—sturdy survivors of hardship, cold, and, in summer, I’m told, mosquitoes! The local Christian Science teacher gave a talk, and then he and, George discussed how the roles of Christian Science nurse and practitioner work together harmoniously on each case. I am in touch with these students, providing guidance by phone, Zoom, or text, on any cases they take. One is continuing classes via Zoom and already has helped a number of church members with her healing, skillful presence.

In February, a Level 1 class of four students plus the administrator was taught in another facility. We practiced skills immediately on the Christian Science nursing floor, where the staff and patients appreciated the influx of fresh inspiration and willing helpers.

Here are some of the ways we “shine[d] from [our] home summit” after stay-at-home orders were issued due to the pandemic: A Level 2 class was postponed to provide more support for our Christian Science nursing floor in mid-March, and we began sewing masks for the staff. When we taught that class in June, it had grown from 3 students to 8! Three were from Fern Lodge, and five were over Zoom—two from New York (plus their Director of Christian Science Nursing), two from Florida (plus their mentor), and one who had attended the Anchorage class in January. That clever student made a life-size doll so she could practice the Level 2 bed care skills. A Level 3 class for three Fern Lodge students convened in August. We continue to teach all four levels as requests come from the field and from our staff.

Our program could not be successful without the support George gives for the program; the tuition assistance provided by the Albert Baker Fund; the scheduling creativity from our Director of Christian Science Nursing, Deanna Proctor; the students, who often need to take turns working a few hours on the Christian Science nursing floor before coming to class for 5-6 hours; our wonderful staff for picking up any slack while the students are in classes; and, for our dearly loved mentor, Deb Messmer, who selflessly gives a high standard of care and guidance with cheerfulness, intelligence, gentleness and respect, which students and staff value immensely.

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