March 11, 2014




The pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.

The mission of Saint Louis University is a serendipitous congruence with what we do in the Nursing profession. The first provision in the Nurse Code of Ethics is to "practice with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of the health problems." Nurses are concerned for the welfare of the sick, injured, and vulnerable and for social justice.

I have had the privilege of caring for individuals with varying diagnoses and life-threatening illnesses. In the late 1980s, I had a young male patient in a community hospital assigned to my care. He was diagnosed with AIDS. We were uncertain as to the exact mode of communicability at the time, so I was fully dressed out in gown, mask, and gloves to do the patient assessment. As I approached, he was playing a sad song on his guitar with the themes of feeling isolated and untouchable. It struck me deeply that all of our protective barriers were perceived as barriers to connecting with the patient on a human level.

Following the events of 9/11, I traveled with a team to study disaster preparedness in Israel. The nurses who were teaching us emphasized the ideal of caring for all persons, regardless of their status. They shared that it was not uncommon to care for persons in the emergency department whether they were the bombers or the victims of the bombing. Again, this very powerful experience and message taught that those nurses were able to recognize the inherent dignity of each individual regardless of their actions.

I have had the privilege of caring for federal prisoners in California and inmates at the County Jail here in Clayton. Our nursing students were able to observe the respect and compassion shown to these inmates throughout the jail and in the jail clinic. Most of the inmates reacted very positively to this demonstrated concern for their welfare.

Seeing the vast numbers of those in the nursing community, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators participating in Make a Difference Day is remarkable. Many groups are eager to assist vulnerable persons with a true sense of social justice. The reflection exercise reminds all of us of our blessings and how it is a duty to give back to the community.

As nursing faculty, we recognize and acknowledge the uniqueness of each student. Each comes to us with varying backgrounds and abilities and we are privileged in the common endeavor of preparing them for practice with individuals, families, and communities. In summary, the Jesuit mission and the work of all health care professionals are truly opportunities and privileges to serve humanity for the greater glory of God.

~Joanne Langan, Ph.D., RN, School of Nursing

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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