When is it ethical to talk about religion with a patient? - page 4

I was talking with a collegue the other day and she described a conversation with a pt where it sounds as if she were basically evangelizing. Now I had been told by my pastor (Catholic priest), who... Read More

  1. by   JBudd
    Has anyone ever tried to convert you to the righteousness of Jewish belief/Islam/Hinduism/Shinto/Ba'hai/Buddha while you were ailing and near death? And how would you feel about somone doing so - trying to "educate" you or your loved ones about how they need to convert now, for fear of "Hell" and how sick they are at this time?
    No. But I have had some really excellent discussions outside the hospital with people of different faiths. My faith is firm enough not to worry about if someone were to honestly care for me enough to approach me at a time they were worried about me (frankly, I'd answer back to them with my faith! lol).

    When my dh was dying, a great many people whom I know are not Christian believers gave me the kind of support they believed in, and I accepted all of it in the spirit it was offered.

    Yes, I have prayed with people, I have read the Bible to them, I have allowed personal questions about my faith when they were looking for answers. I have not pushed it, rarely initiated it (and that time was tentative, and gratefully received). There are a great many times when as a private citizen I would have brought up Christ, but as a health professional the timing was not right and I remained professional.
  2. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from caroladybelle
    There are also militant Christians that are offended by those that do not believe in Christ. I personally can never understand why some believers are so disturbed by those that do not believe, and that our lives also are fulfilling.
    And only the Christians are bemused as to why some might be offended by their baptizing a child neither theirs nor born into Christianity. It's a tremendously presumptuous act, no matter how well meant.

    There is no war on religion being waged by atheists. There is, however, a battle being waged to wedge religion into science and government and that I will battle with all my might.

    I will not, however, upset one of my little old ladies facing death with my disbelief. That would be wicked.
  3. by   TazziRN
    Trudy, I am deeply, deeply offended that you would consider an act of good faith equal to unwanted sexual touching.


    And only the Christians are bemused as to why some might be offended by their baptizing a child neither theirs nor born into Christianity. It's a tremendously presumptuous act, no matter how well meant.
    Again....I live and work in an area where the Catholic population is very large, and it's often a safe bet to assume the family is Catholic. Would I do this if I were in another area? I don't know. I was taught to do this when I first started nursing, by my first employer, and parents were grateful.
    Last edit by TazziRN on Jan 9, '07
  4. by   Spidey's mom
    Originally Posted by caroladybelle
    Has anyone ever tried to convert you to the righteousness of Jewish belief/Islam/Hinduism/Shinto/Ba'hai/Buddha while you were ailing and near death? And how would you feel about somone doing so - trying to "educate" you or your loved ones about how they need to convert now, for fear of "Hell" and how sick they are at this time?


    Hi caroladybelle - I thought this question was directed to GardenDove.

    I'll answer - prefaced by the fact that I didn't become a Christian until I was about 29. I did go to church all my life though.

    At this point in my life I would probably not be offended. I would most likely take it as it is likely being offered - with love and caring. I would re-direct them out of the room though.

    Prior to my faith in Christ I would probably have been pretty darn pizzed . . . .actually I didn't much like the whole "born-again" crowd.

    I used to hide from Jehovah's Witnesses and Latter Day Saints when they came to the door and now I engage them in conversation.

    I just cut people more slack now - I'm not so judgmental.

    I see myself in my daughter - she is 17, knows it all and is an agnostic. I pity the poor people who used to be around me - I was an opinionated brat.

    The older I get, the more I think about the ways we are alike instead of the ways we are different.

    I think I'm rambling now . . .

    steph
  5. by   Julie_Bean
    Quote from GardenDove
    I have one nurse friend who told me that she will whisper the name of Jesus in dying pt's ears.
    O MY GOSH!!!!!

    WOW I'm stunned! That is so wrong to push your religion on some one else on so many different levels and especially in a nurse patient relationship! EEEKKK!!!

    I would be outraged and ask for another nurse if I had that issue with a nurse!
    especially now knowing that the teach very stictly against this in school and that it is our job to respect pt rights in this area and their autonomy.
    and I am one that would be likely to come across this issue as I am athiest but If i had a patient that was about to die and wanted me to hold their hand or something in prayer I would but not bow my head like I do any other time I am in this situation but still be there with them to provide that comfort and care to them.
    Last edit by Julie_Bean on Jan 9, '07
  6. by   AliRae
    I'm a deeply religious person. As it stands, the other nurses I work with are very much aware of my beliefs - my faith is the most important thing in my life, and necessarily colours what I do and say and how I act. They'll ask m questions and we'll get in discussions fairly frequently.

    As far as patients go, I'm with everyone here who's on the "don't push it" side of the fence. If a family asks me to pray with them, I'll pray. I actually pray silently for my kiddos every time I wash my hands before going into their rooms. (Double bonus? It makes me take the right amount of time washing!) If a family has religious beliefs or customs that I don't personally agree with, it's surely not my perogative to mess with that in the workplace. I'll make sure icons are pinned to the bed, statues are secured, and Scriptures are taped to baby warmers.

    I've had more "hardcore" members of my church question me about all this, asking me if I get a chance to "share" at work. They think I should. But I definitely don't think I'm being untrue to my God by respecting His creation (my patients and their families) when they're in dire straitsby not pushing what I believe on them.

    As to the baptism question ... if a baby is Jewish and a Catholic person sprinkles some water on it, does that make the baby Catholic? I think, provided God is omniscent and omnipotent, as most people of monotheistic faith will agree, He can figure it all out, no?
  7. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from AliRae
    I actually pray silently for my kiddos every time I wash my hands before going into their rooms. (Double bonus? It makes me take the right amount of time washing!)
    Hey, religion as a warrior in the fight against nosocomial infection! I like it!

  8. by   PANurseRN1
    I think it's very presumptuous, if not even unethical, to knowingly baptize a stillborn infant of a non-Christian. If that were my baby and I found out about it, there would be Hell to pay (pun intended).

    For that matter, it's presumptuous to do so unless the parent has requested it. Who gives the nurse the right to decide a baby needs to be baptized?
    Last edit by PANurseRN1 on Jan 9, '07
  9. by   RN ColbyJack
    For me, one of my most important roles as a nurse is to assess and respond to the spiritual and emotional needs of my patients. (Mypatients' needs, not my own). Spirituality and religion may or may not overlap. Some of the biggest questions patients, especially those who are quite ill, face are emotional and spiritual questions. What is the meaning of life; what is the purpose of this struggle, etc. They may be answered in context of religion or they may not. Regardless of the answer, the questions themselves are pretty much universal. Isn't our job to support our patients in understanding and clarifying their own answers, or at the least to allow space for that? As best as I'm able, I'm much less focused on religious specifics and more on the individual spiritual needs of my patients. Good discussion going on here...
  10. by   tnbutterfly
    Quote from rn colbyjack
    for me, one of my most important roles as a nurse is to assess and respond to the spiritual and emotional needs of my patients. (my patients' needs, not my own). ...
    colbyjack....i totally agree. we need to assess and respond to our patient's needs and not our own needs ... physical, spiritual and emotional. this is part of caring for the whole patient.
  11. by   SaderNurse05
    Quote from TazziRN
    Baptising fetuses: we have a very very large Catholic Hispanic population so I'm pretty safe in assuming the mom who had the miscarriage is not Jewish. Might not be Catholic, but probably not Jewish. I am not Catholic, but a priest once told me that in a pinch, it doesn't matter who does the baptising as long as it happens. As for the babies who code in the ER and no parents are around, we take a chance an play it safe that a baptism would be a good thing. I think if if I accidentally baptised a Jewish baby or a baby of any other non-Christian faith, that the God of that belief would understand the intent and forgive. I think a rabbi would too. And this is not something that would be done if the parents are present, only when the baby is alone and there does not seem to be any other recourse. I'm sorry that you, as a Jewish parent, would be furious with me but I would hope that you would come to understand that I made the best decision possible at the time. If my baby were in extremis and I was not there to tell the staff what religion we are, I would be grateful if a Jewish nurse said whatever is said over Jewish babies because it would open a road to Heaven for my child. It may not be the road I would take as part of my faith, but if a Jewish nurse made sure that my baby made her way back to God in the only way that she knew how, that would be good enough for me.
    This brought tears to my eyes....
  12. by   CHATSDALE
    i don't talk religion or politics with pts..
    if i am asked i will explain my faith [never my politic trends]

    i disagree with the post that atheists don't try and convert..i have worked with nurses who almost every shift would make a religious joke
    one little penetecostal [sp?] girl quit because of it

    i think that we should have respect for our fellow nurses...if you believe that they are making the patients uncomfortable talk them one on one before you decide to report them..you don't know maybe this is what the pt wanted
  13. by   SaderNurse05
    Quote from caroladybelle
    Has anyone ever tried to convert you to the righteousness of Jewish belief/Islam/Hinduism/Shinto/Ba'hai/Buddha while you were ailing and near death? And how would you feel about somone doing so - trying to "educate" you or your loved ones about how they need to convert now, for fear of "Hell" and how sick they are at this time?
    I think this would be horribly inappropriate. I would be mighty p*ssed off if someone did that to me or my family member. I have prayed in my mind for for many patients and people have asked me to pray with them. I would NEVER threaten someone with eternal damnation, on the deathbed or not. As a nurse that is not my job. My job is to care for my patient. As a Christian nurse I am comforted by my prayers, whether they are in my head or said aloud.

close