Parish Nurse and Parish Ministry Associate
I love rural health! Health in rural settings has a unique way of connecting people who support each other.
Health is not served in a vacuum. Wholeness of health encompasses all aspects of our lives — physical, emotional, social and spiritual.
In rural areas, people connect with others who know them and care deeply for them, as if for another member of their family. These are the same people we see at the grocery store, sit by at a sporting event, sponsor local fundraising events with and share the ups and downs of life. This fosters a bond that promotes health and community.
I have worked in a county hospital for many years, caring for people in all realms of health. I helped bring babies into the world, cared for those in motor vehicle crashes and other emergencies and helped people recover from surgery. I have sat with families as their loved one took their last breath. In rural health settings, caregivers are a part of the most intimate parts of a person’s life.
Most recently in my hospital work, I work as a cardiac rehab nurse. It is such a joy to see the improvement people can make in taking charge of their health and to see the accomplishments they can take credit for and be proud of. But most of all, it is rewarding for me to get to know these people in a special way. We share setbacks and challenges, as well as hopes and dreams. Rural health is about wholeness of health in so many ways.
Being the chaplain at the local nursing home takes rural health to another dimension. Those residents realize physical wellness may not be in their reach anymore, so connections with others and with their God is their way of finding wholeness. We comfort each other in the death of a spouse and other loved ones. We worship together. I get to hear their lifetime stories of faith. Even for those who don’t attend church it is a time for me to use my listening and empathy skills — so vital to health care! As a nurse, I also understand their physical limitations and how it impacts their health.
Rural health encompasses all aspects of our lives and communities with support from medical professionals and caregivers of all types. That is why I love rural health!
Julie D. Schmidt, RN, BSN, Parish Nurse, Parish Ministry Associate