Dr. Patrick Crane holds a high view of nursing in both the clinic and the classroom.
“I tell my students, nursing isn’t a job. Nursing is who you are,” said the recipient of the award for Nursing Education.
Crane, an assistant professor in the undergraduate program at Michigan State University, teaches students in their last semester before graduation. By that time, his goal is help nurses to “embrace” their new vocation.
“When we think of nursing education, we tend to think of those hard clinical skills,” such as how to run a ventilator or how to dispense medication. “But they also need the tools be it with communication, being savvy when it comes to policy, to learning how to embrace the possibilities and the responsibilities of the profession. Those things are equally important.”
“For Patrick Crane, nursing is not just a job. It is a professional calling that demands attention to detail (and) reflects a passionate desire to improve the status of those for whom he cares,” wrote Louise Selanders, professor emerita; and Jill Vondrasek in a letter nominating Crane for the award.
And that responsibility isn’t limited to the bedside.
“Your patients are the greater community in which we live,” he said. During a leadership course he teaches, he stresses that “our graduates [need] to become leaders in wherever they work and in their communities to make the world a healthier place.”
He practices that philosophy, too. “It’s somewhere in my being,” he said. “I feel that’s an absolute obligation from a nurse’s perspective to be able to provide wellness and health to as large of a segment of the population as possible.”
For the last two years he’s been a nurse practitioner at the Ingham County Jail. It’s one way he’s fulfilling the mission he had at the start of his career: “to provide high-quality care to vulnerable populations.” Sometimes students will accompany him for the experience of working in a diverse setting. “Being an inmate at a county jail, you are among the most vulnerable. You’re generally underserved prior to arriving at jail.”
He chose nursing after first considering studying biology or teaching, he said.
“Nursing fascinated me because it was a highly scientific discipline that required an awful lot of not only intellectual ability but also emotional intelligence,” he said. “Nursing, I believe, is the one discipline in health care that really balances both of those needs, both the biophysiologic and the emotional-spiritual needs of the people we care for.”
He’s particularly inspired by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale propagated the belief that illness wasn’t about the absence of disease, but rather about helping people achieve the greatest state of health they can. It’s a philosophy Crane said he aims to model.
“She reminds me of the full potential of nursing and I don’t think we’ve reached nursing’s full potential yet,” he said. Studying Nightingale is part of a London study abroad program that he and Dr. Louise Selanders, professor emerita, lead once a year.
History informs the profession’s future. Viewing nursing in context with the rest of the political, social and physical worlds going on at the time reminds students not to divorce themselves from their communities, he said.
His “deep understanding of the potential of the professional nurse for whom he educates,” as his nominators wrote, excites him most about the future of the profession.
Nurses are poised to influence the profession at the bedside and the public policy level, he said. They have “the education, the knowledge, the experience to really innovate in the health care setting. With more and more nurses being involved in research and education and evidence-based practice, we’re going to see some real change going forward.”
Erin F. Wasinger is a freelance writer for the Lansing State Journal
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