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College of Arts and Sciences

Preparing to Provide Holistic Care: The Complementarity of Nursing and Catholic Studies

Nursing major Reilly Williams ’25.

Nursing major Reilly Williams ’25.

When students majoring in nursing consider potential minors, many think of psychology, sociology, a language or math. Seton Hall nursing major Reilly Williams ’25, the senior co-president of the Student Nurses Association (SNA) on campus, wants other nursing majors to know the benefits she has found through her minor in a different, all-encompassing field: Catholic Studies.

Collaborating with students majoring in disciplines across the university—learning to understand and grow with them—has given Williams valuable soft skills that are applicable to any walk of life. She anticipates that these skills will be especially valuable to her in her nursing career. "My Catholic Studies minor complements my major in nursing by giving me the tools to understand and learn from various perspectives," Williams shared. "In these classes, I speak with a variety of students from different majors, learning from their experiences. I spend most of my time in nursing listening to lectures and applying clinical skills, but my Christianity classes explore a world outside of nursing. This improves my critical thinking skills and makes me a well-rounded student."

Williams has found that the experiential nature of her Catholic Studies courses has sharpened her awareness of faith as a bedrock of culture. This March, she traveled to Italy on the spring break study abroad trip connected to the Catholic Studies course Foundations of Christian Culture. She explained that the trip helped her to understand "the connection between Catholicism and Italian culture." She continued, "Through this experience, I broadened my horizons through hands-on learning in some of the most historical parts of the world including Rome, Pompeii and Sicily." She anticipates that these experiences will help her better understand the perspectives of her future patients and colleagues.

"In the Catholic Studies Program, we value engaging in conversations about challenging issues," said Ines A. Murzaku, Ph.D., professor, Department of Religion, director, Catholic Studies Program, and founding chair, Department of Catholic Studies. "Our faculty guide students to deeper appreciation of how philosophical worldviews and personal experiences of faith influence individuals’ decisions and actions." This emphasis on empathy appeals to Williams, a student whose motivations to become a nurse came through a formative experience in her childhood. As she was growing up, she frequently visited her cousin in the hospital. "I always looked up to his nurses," she said. "I want to be this source of support and care for other pediatric patients!"

Serving a pediatric population comes with unique challenges, and Williams sees her nursing and Catholic Studies training coalescing to uniquely prepare her for her career. Williams said, "One important aspect of nursing is being able to connect with others, which is a skill I have strengthened through my minor in Catholic Studies. I have a much better understanding of how all religions, Catholicism or not, may impact individual’s life and their medical decisions."

Williams, a participant in the Buccino Leadership Institute and an Academic Resource Center Peer Tutor, has chosen to support the other nursing students on campus and to promote health on campus through her participation in the SNA.

Throughout her years at Seton Hall, Williams has been involved in the SNA on campus. The SNA is "a forum where future nurses can flourish, collaborate and bond as leaders in any healthcare setting in order to integrate these values by being able to provide compassionate and quality care to … future patients." As junior co-president of the SNA for the 2023-2024 academic year and senior co-president for the 2024-2025 academic year, Williams has a unique role in steering this organization, as it connects future nursing professionals with students of other majors and as it "promote[s] health throughout Seton Hall’s campus through events such as blood drives and blood pressure screenings, alumni panels, food drives, health fairs," fulfilling the club’s Statement of Purpose. In her leadership role, Williams maintains open communication with club members, College of Nursing administration and members of the outside community.

Williams emphasized that her education in Catholic Studies has prepared her to take on the challenges of both student leadership and a career in serving those who are suffering or vulnerable. "I have learned to listen to and value various perspectives, which is helpful in both nursing and leadership positions," she shared. "Not only has my minor in Catholic Studies helped me improve as a student and leader, but it has also prepared me to view each patient holistically. The skills I have learned help ensure that I and the rest of the healthcare team are providing patients with the best possible care physically, emotionally and spiritually."

"We hear from many alumni how their Catholic Studies major or minor prepared them for their career," Murzaku said. "We are thrilled to hear from current students, such as Williams, that they already see dialogue, interdisciplinary collaboration and emphasis on appreciating faith as influencing their way of thinking—their way of leading—their dedication to service. Our Catholic Studies faculty take their responsibility to provide paradigm-shifting courses for our students very seriously, and we are gratified to see our work bearing much fruit in students such as Williams."

Categories: Faith and Service, Science and Technology