Nurse practitioner blends clinical care and spiritual outreach

May 12, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

As an advanced practice registered nurse at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, Kelly Scheu, MS, NP, has been a source of strength for many breast cancer patients over the years. In fact, patients often mention Kelly by name, praising her warmth and openness, and her ability to know just the right thing to say or do if a patient is having a bad day. Since these are often qualities found in someone in a religious role, it’s not surprising that Kelly, who is deeply spiritual, has developed a lay ministry at the Cancer Center.

“As an Advanced Practice Nurse, a part of my clinical assessment is to ask about spirituality. I feel when journeying through any disease, the mind, body, and, spirit all need to be addressed to promote holistic healing. Asking a patient about their spirituality, allows them to begin sharing and talking about how their disease has affected them spiritually and to share what their needs are so support can be provided,” she says.

Kelly, who is being called to become an ordained Deacon in the Episcopal Church, says that people who believe in God all worship the same one, but under different names, and with different prophets. Her openness leads to spiritual conversations with patients and families representing many different faiths and beliefs.

“I encourage patients to share with God their needs and their thoughts. And before long, we are praying, singing and holding hands, sometimes whole groups of family and loved ones join in,” she says.

Patients occasionally voice surprise that someone wearing a white coat would take the time to pray with them. Kelly explains that she has been given a spiritual gift, the ability to engage patients in a conversation with God. She also lets patients and families know that spiritual care is available as well from a clinically trained chaplain at the Cancer Center.

During National Nurses Week, May 6 – May 12, 2016, please celebrate the many different roles, both formal and informal, that nurses fulfill as they care for patients and families.

Take the next step:

  • Watch this video, created in 2015 in celebration of the excellence, compassion, connection and caring found throughout the nursing community at UMHS.