Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self
By: Lois Hoitenga Roelofs
Imagine not wanting to be a nurse or a teacher only to find yourself later in life teaching nursing and loving it.
In Caring Lessons, Lois Roelofs tells her stories about being a rebellious minister’s daughter, reluctant nurse, restless mom, perpetual student, and eventually, fun-loving teacher of mental health nursing. She used to tell her students that if she, an ordinary suburban sandbox mom, propelled by restlessness and prayer, could end up having a career, growing in faith, and getting a PhD, they could too.
Roelofs brings the “therapeutic use of self” required in nursing to her writing. You will be amused, saddened, and inspired as you read this intimate and introspective memoir. You may even run to enroll or teach in a nursing program, and, if you’re already teaching nursing students, you may discover renewed gratitude for the privilege.
The main theme of the book is caring—caring for others and caring for oneself. The “others” in Roelofs’ career involved students as well as patients: students in the classroom, clinical settings, and her office and patients in inpatient as well as in a variety of outpatient settings. In caring for others, the nurse as caregiver must care for herself; she did so by changing jobs to suit her interests, going back to school more than once to feed her crave for learning, and seeking professional help when first her restlessness as an unhappy housewife and, much later, when illnesses of several people close to her and her husband’s cancer invaded her personal life.
Roelofs takes the opportunity to let others know more about nurses. What do they do? How do they think? How do they choose where to work and what kind of work they do? Throughout Caring Lessons readers will learn the importance of faith, family, and friendship that applies to their own lives whatever their profession and will come away with a new appreciation of caring for themselves as well as caring for others.
“…a powerful yet delightful commentary on the fears, joys, and culminating pride to be found in a nursing career.” -Patsy L Ruchala, DNSc, RN, Professor and Director, Orvis School of Nursing, University of Nevada, Reno.
Biography of Lois Hoitenga Roelofs
After “reading, eating, and sleeping nursing” for nearly forty years, Lois Roelofs now schedules her days around having fun – writing creative nonfiction, taking classes of all kinds, going to concerts and plays, and volunteering for the Mental Health Ministry at her church.
Lois is a Professor Emerita of Nursing at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. Throughout her career she has held positions in practice, education, research, and administration. She worked in hospitals, an HMO, and a steel mill, and taught in four nursing programs: Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL; Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL; Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN; and St. Xavier University in Chicago, IL.
It was near her retirement that she and a friend began discussing writing books about their nursing careers. With a lack of memoirs written by nursing professors describing their career paths, Lois found that her life story as an ordinary suburban sandbox mom who ended up teaching nursing and getting a PhD was needed. With a national shortage of registered nurses (over a half million projected this decade) and a shortage of nursing faculty that causes nursing programs to turn qualified applicants away, Lois believes that her book may encourage readers to think about becoming nurses and could also stimulate nurses to think about becoming teachers, both of which would address these critical shortages.
- Diploma, Blodgett Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1962
- BHS (Nursing Practice), Governors State University, Park Forest South, IL, 1977
- MS (Psychiatric Nursing), University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, 1981
- PhD (Nursing Science), University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, 1991
- Certificate in the four-year Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2013
16th Annual Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference First Place Award for Outstanding Doctoral Student Poster, Chicago, Illinois, 1992
To book Lois Roelofs contact Rhonda Funk
Bring It On! Communications
(After 1/1/13, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about my background, you will find an abbreviated curriculum vitae of my nursing career and a current resume of my retirement writing education on my blog at loisroelofs.com, listed under the About Me page in the header. Thanks! Lois)
Suggested Interview Questions for Lois Roelofs, author of
Q. What motivated you to write Caring Lessons?
A. I loved to tell stories when I was teaching nursing, so when I retired it was natural for me to want to write some of the stories down.
Q. You start out by saying you didn’t want to become a nurse or a teacher. You wanted to be a stewardess. Why didn’t you do what you wanted to do?
A. It was the fifties. My folks expected me to become a teacher or a nurse. I didn’t dare question.
Q. What do you mean by the title Caring Lessons?
A. Nursing involves caring for and caring about our patients. It also involves caring for and caring about ourselves as the caretakers. While caring, we learn many lessons along the way.
Q. How did your faith influence your professional and personal life?
A. My faith gave me the courage to care for my patients and myself during difficult situations.
Q. How is Caring Lessons relevant to today’s nurse?
A. The essence of nursing, caring for and caring about our patients, is timeless and especially important knowledge in today’s climate of registered nurse and nursing faculty shortages.
Q. How is Caring Lessons different from other nursing memoirs?
A. It is the only memoir that I’m aware of that traces a nursing professor’s career—from nurse’s aide to professor emerita and from earning the basic diploma in nursing to a PhD in nursing science.
Q. What would lay persons get out of reading your book?
A. Lay persons will recognize the universal themes of caring, faith, family, and friendship. They will also gain an awareness of nursing education, nursing roles, and nursing clinical specialties, specifically psychiatric/mental health nursing.
Q. What surprises have you encountered from writing your book?
A. I have been surprised at the resonance of the content for readers, especially non-nurses. I have also been surprised at readers’ surprise at what I was able to accomplish in a forty-year career, plus to then write about it. And I have been especially surprised that nursing programs are starting already to adopt Caring Lessons as required reading in bridge, capstone, or professional development courses.
Q. What is your hope for the book?
A. I hope readers will see and come to understand, contrary to media stereotypes, the intellectual rigor required in the study and practice of nursing. And I hope readers will become more aware of and sensitive to persons living with mental illness and their families.
Other topics for discussion:
- Writing Your Nursing Life: Why?
- Maintaining Your Me While Being a Mom
- Changing Minds about Mental Illness
- A Wife’s Life after Prostate Cancer
- Hanging on to a Yearning for Learning
For more information please contact Rhonda Funk
Bring It On! Communications
(After 1/1/13, contact me directly at caring email@example.com. For more information about my background, you will find an abbreviated curriculum vitae of my nursing career and a current resume of my retirement writing education on my blog at loisroelofs.com, listed under the About Me page in the header. Thanks! Lois)
Mary Mann said:
I comment on your site but I think it is not getting posted. Congratulations on your big move. A major decision. I always appreciate your support. I have started writing a book. A long loving process. Don’t laugh, my title is going to be Nurse Mary’s Patient Guide to RA. When I get it done (a year) perhaps you could look it over and make suggestions. I enjoy your posts.
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Lois Roelofs said:
I’d love to look over your book, Mary, and thanks for the nice words. I appreciate your spirit in what can become a trying journey.
Nurse Mentee said:
This is truly inspiring
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Thank you! Hope it helps you in your career. Nursing is most rewarding!