Nurse’ Brad Langdon will now care for spirit and body
Shenandoah Valley Minister, 52, To Graduate From U.Va. School Of
May 7, 2004 --
Brad Langdon was in his second job after college,
having first been a newspaper reporter, then a communications assistant
with the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
He thought he might pursue a career in a medical field.
inspired another idea, though, and Langdon landed at Union
Theological Seminary in Richmond.
He graduated in 1983, and spent the next decade establishing
as a Presbyterian minister, getting married along the way.
1993, he and his wife, Vicki, settled into the Lexington
area — he
as pastor of Collierstown Presbyterian Church, she as a
nurse at Stonewall Jackson
Hospital, and both as owner-operators of a small cow-and-calf operation.
They were part of the community fabric.
Langdon still felt restless. After prayerful reflection, “I
came to a point in my ministry where I was really ready for
else larger to
do,” he said. “Basically, I wanted to have more hands-on experience
in caring for the whole person — not only spiritually, but physically.”
took a few courses at local community colleges. In 2002, he resigned
his pulpit, sold the cattle, moved out of the church-provided
enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Nursing.
weekend, at age 52 and three decades after earning his bachelor’s
degree in literature from Penn State University-Middletown, John Bradford
Langdon will receive a bachelor’s of science in nursing,
then begin his newest career as a psychiatric nurse at
Western State Hospital in Staunton.
quiet, thoughtful man — think Richard Thomas as John-Boy Walton, grown
up — Langdon talks knowledgeably of leading-edge care and evidence-based
nursing. But much of nursing comes down to simply caring for patients,
and those who have worked with him universally laud his approachable,
just think he’s a wise and gentle soul,” said
Nursing School instructor Gina DeGennaro.
nursing student Meg Helsley, who worked closely with him
this year, agrees. “He’s very compassionate and dedicated,
very intuitive to the emotional and physical needs of the patient.”
have not been the only beneficiaries of Langdon’s care.
This year he took a clinical leadership practicum, in which he
helped guide seven third-year
undergraduate students through their first clinical training.
can be overwhelming for students,” who receive their
patient assignments the night before, then prepare to care
for their patients the next
day, DeGennaro said. Even medical students are typically
four years older before they work with patients.
cancer ward, where Langdon’s group worked, is particularly
stressful, she said. “The rest of the University
community really doesn’t have
to deal with this. They have this life and death situation,
in addition to dealing with tests and papers.”
deaths of several patients, especially two who were close
to the students’ age,
were very troubling. Langdon was a valuable resource
to the students in those situations, she said.
of the third-year students, Lindsey Loving, cared
for a 52-year-old woman for several weeks. One day, “I
just walked into the room when she took her last breath,” she
“[Death] was a big shock. You didn’t really expect that going in,” she
said. “Brad was there with words of comfort and a shoulder to cry on. He
just pulled me to the side, and we sat there and we really talked.”
go is hard,” Langdon said. “But the gifts we
give to the patients are valuable, and the patients’ families
value that. … What
she gave was really important, and she needed to
advice became the core of a memorable post-clinical conference
Langdon led on end-of-life issues.
each day on the wards,
at the Nursing School to review their experiences
and take in some instruction. At his session,
he wrote to them about
the importance of the gifts they gave to patients.
“He helped them through some tough times and brought a lot of spiritual
essence to those students,” said Helsley, who is also the cancer clinical
trials coordinator for Martha Jefferson Hospital’s Cancer Care Center.
all felt blessed when he did it,” added DeGennaro.
Langdon later led a focus group to discuss how to help students
cope with end-of-life situations,
and will keep working with DeGennaro to develop
a more systematic approach to preparing and debriefing students.
isn’t as much a career change as an enhancement, Langdon
said. He remains a member of the clergy, and while in school
performed two weddings
and preached roughly once a month as a substitute
“In some respects, I see nursing as an extension and an expansion of the
ministry of caring which is part of the ministry of Word and Sacrament,” he
Dan Heuchert, (434) 924-7676