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2024 Graduation Reflection: Embracing Pope Francis' Laudato Si' and Acknowledging My ACU Journey

Honoured guests, esteemed faculty, and my fellow Bachelor of Nursing graduates,

Today, I stand before you as a graduate of this esteemed institution and a bearer of profound insights gained during my time at ACU. My time at ACU has uniquely prepared me to respond to this important question: How does Pope Francis' Laudato Si' illuminate the path forward in my academic journey and the world outside these walls? As I stand here on the verge of a new chapter in my life, I feel compelled to think about it. Pope Francis elaborates on the inherent value of every human being in Laudato Si, highlighting that each person has an inherent dignity (Pope Francis, 2015; Sison et al., 2016). This sacred value encompasses our responsibility to protect our shared home and individual rights. As nurses, we have the extraordinary privilege of providing for people's mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Pope Francis' message emphasises that every patient we encounter deserves respect, compassion, and the highest standard of care, regardless of their circumstances (Pope Francis, 2015).

Laudato Si also develops the idea of the common good, emphasising how interconnected all living things are (Sison et al., 2016). The collaborative nature of healthcare, where a multidisciplinary approach is necessary for the best possible patient outcomes, is reflected in this principle. As nurses, we must collaborate effectively with physicians, therapists, and other healthcare providers, understanding that the well-being of our patients depends on all of our efforts (Maria et al., 2020). The global community is included in Pope Francis' definition of the common good beyond our immediate surroundings. One community's health can significantly impact others in an era of growing interconnectedness (Haim-Litevsky et al., 2023). This necessitates a dedication to just and equitable healthcare practices that benefit all.

I am acutely aware of nurses' crucial role in advocating for those who are marginalised or vulnerable as I consider how Pope Francis' teachings apply to my future career. Laudato Si emphasises the significance of caring for the most defenceless members of our global family in conjunction with care ethics (Brazal, 2021). This is inextricably linked to nursing's dedication to upholding the rights and welfare of all patients, particularly those who might not have a voice or face systemic obstacles to care. The document's focus on tenderness and compassion further supports the value of fostering a healing environment that goes beyond

medical care. (Pope Francis, 2015; Malenfant et al., 2022). This includes advocating for equal access to healthcare resources, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location. Just as Laudato Si' emphasises our interconnectedness and interdependence within the human family, nursing recognises that each patient is not merely a medical case, but a person with their own story, struggles, and aspirations (Brazal, 2021). As caregivers, we are called to view our patients as more than the sum of their ailments, treating them with the same compassion and tenderness that St. Francis extended to every creature. This perspective transcends a purely clinical approach, fostering a holistic model of care that encompasses physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being (Brazal, 2021)

Looking ahead to my role as a Registered Nurse, I am reminded of the specific human community that I will serve. In the diverse tapestry of healthcare, I recognise the importance of tailoring care to meet the unique needs of each patient. Whether it be in a bustling urban hospital or a remote rural clinic, the essence of human dignity remains unwavering. Every patient, regardless of their background, deserves to be treated with reverence and to receive care that is culturally sensitive and responsive. Thus, my time at ACU has been transformative, shaping me into a nurse who is committed to upholding the principles espoused by Pope Francis. I am poised to embark on this noble profession with a profound understanding of the sanctity of human life and the imperative to work towards the common good. As I step into the realm of nursing, I carry with me the teachings of Laudato Si, a guiding light that will inform my practice and inspire me to be an advocate for all those entrusted to my care.

References

Brazal, A. M. (2021). Ethics of care in Laudato Si’: A postcolonial ecofeminist critique. Feminist Theology, 29(3), 220–233. 

Haim-Litevsky, D., Komemi, R., & Lipskaya-Velikovsky, L. (2023). Sense of belonging, meaningful daily life participation, and well-being: Integrated investigation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(5), 4121. 

Malenfant, S., Jaggi, P., Hayden, K. A., & Sinclair, S. (2022). Compassion in healthcare: an updated scoping review of the literature. BMC Palliative Care, 21(1). 

Maria, D. H. S. Y., Mei, W. L., & Stanley, L. K. K. (2020). The transition challenges faced by new graduate nurses in their first year of professional experience. GSTF Journal of Nursing and Health Care (JNHC), 5(1). Pope Francis. (2015). In Laudato si’. 

Sison, A. J. G., Ferrero, I., & Guitián, G. (2016). Human Dignity and The Dignity of Work: Insights from Catholic Social Teaching. Business Ethics Quarterly, 26(4), 503–528. 

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