The philosophy of the Calvin College Department of Nursing is derived from its mission: to engage in professional nursing education that promotes lifelong Christian service within a caring and diverse educational community. The faculty of the Calvin College Department of Nursing holds the following values with respect to person, environment, health and nursing.


All persons are created and live from conception to natural death in the image of God. As image-bearers each person has inherent worth and dignity and should be shown respect. Persons are uniquely made by the Creator as multifaceted (spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, cultural, intellectual) beings, and their lives are lived out in the context of families and communities. Persons possess God-given free will to make choices, are experts in their own experience and have responsibility to care for themselves and others.


The environment refers to that which surrounds us, the world we live in, created perfect by God but fallen now as a result of sin. Environment is comprised of that which God created as well as that which persons as God’s agents made; the social, economic, political, legal, technological, and cultural aspects of our world. The health care system encompasses several of these aspects of the environment and is of particular concern to professional nurses and their clients. The environment can facilitate or impede the maintenance or attainment of health.


Health is a sense of wellness as defined by the person, family, or community in partnership with the nurse. The acquisition of health is an active process, defined in the context of one’s culture and values. It can be pursued but will not be completely obtained in a fallen world. Health can exist in the presence of illness.

Health and illness are qualitatively different but interrelated concepts. Differing levels of health can interact with the experience of illness. Illness is a discrete event that can occur throughout the life process, of short or long duration. Illness experiences can thwart or facilitate one’s continuing quest for health. Thus, optimum health or poor health can exist with or without overt illness (Pender, 2011).


As Christians in the Reformed tradition we believe that all persons are called to be of service in this world and in God’s kingdom. In that sense the practice of nursing and the teaching of nursing are callings or vocations and are opportunities to exercise God-given gifts and abilities in a life of service to the human community out of gratitude to God for His gift of redemption. The practice of nursing is both an art and a science. As an art, the discipline of nursing seeks to craft Christ-like responses to individuals, families or communities that celebrate their uniqueness and diversity. As a science, nursing synthesizes knowledge from the humanities, the natural and social sciences as well as from the science of nursing itself. Nursing’s efforts are directed toward health promotion and health protection of individuals, families, and communities through the establishment of relationships and partnerships.


The Calvin College teacher of nursing is expected to bring the same faith that shapes the practice of nursing to the teaching task. Because we believe “There is not a square inch on the whole plain of human existence over which Christ, who is Lord of all, does not proclaim: ‘This is Mine!’”(Kuyper, 1880), our Christian faith must necessarily shape the content and process of practicing and teaching nursing. The teachers of nursing in a Reformed Christian college are expected to possess expertise in the science of nursing and in developing new knowledge for nursing. In the classroom, clinical facility, and in other interactions with students they are expected to respect their students and exhibit Christian virtues that make the classroom a hospitable place for learning. They will use pedagogies that recognize the variety of styles of and abilities for learning. In short, the teachers are expected to be role models for the students and one another and teach from the heart.


The Calvin College Nursing faculty believe that learning is a dynamic process. It involves a partnership between teacher and learner each of whom has responsibilities. Students come to the task of learning with different abilities and learn in a variety of ways. Students must learn the knowledge of nursing, a liberal arts core, and the natural and social sciences that provide the foundation for nursing practice. They must also learn the virtues and commitments important to participation in society. Also, since learning is a dynamic process, we recognize that it occurs throughout one’s entire life and the college years are but one stage in the life-long vocation.


Kuyper, A. (1880). Souvereiniteit in Eigen Kring. Amsterdam: Kruyt.

Pender, N.J. (2011). Health promotion in nursing practice. Boston, MA: Pearson.