Do You Have To Be Religious/Spiritual to be a good Nurse? - page 3

by Soliloquy

7,227 Views | 57 Comments

I'm struggling with this to an extent. I go to a deeply religious school and yes, I hate it. At times I feel as though it's a major requirement to be religious in order to function as a nurse and I didn't always feel this way but... Read More


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    Quote from Soliloquy
    For many here, their faith is a major part of their nursing practice.
    For many, their faith is a major part of their life.......not just nursing. But because faith plays an important part of their life, it becomes part of who they are..... what they do, think and say. I am not saying that they should use their belief system to ostracize others or disrespect the beliefs of others.
    SE_BSN_RN, Soliloquy, and somenurse like this.
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    I am answering this from the viewpoint of another culture. One which claims Christianity as an official state religion. But many citizens do not claim any religion, and many will not discuss faith in public. Most of my generation are atheist.
    Last edit by JDZ344 on May 14, '14
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    Quote from tnbutterfly
    For many, their faith is a major part of their life.......not just nursing. But because faith plays an important part of their life, it becomes part of who they are..... what they do, think and say. I am not saying that they should use their belief system to ostracize others or disrespect the beliefs of others.
    I know they never meant to impose their views on me. Not my professors at least. In my later years, the ones who have remained with me have been very supportive of my nursing development. But there are those moments when I have felt very cut off from the other sides of myself. The sides of me that have wanted to be far more than just the labels provided within the institution I am in but that they seemed to work really hard to keep out of the forefront. It really was my fault for attending this school and thinking I could...broaden my horizons. But that's why I'm here now. Trying.

    What you've said does help put things into perspective.
  4. 1
    Quote from Soliloquy
    I've been rejected so many times at this school because of my nature and the way I approach life and people that I'm unsure.
    I made it through 4 years of college without making a friend in my classes. I did things by myself and I survived! You are almost done.

    No, you do not have to be religious. I am not, and I work at a religion-based nursing home. The only thing I am usually faced with is bedside memorials to residents who have passed. There is just a statement and prayer to read, and if I lead a prayer, I just read it and don't put too much thought into the prayer itself - instead, I think of how wonderful the person was.

    If someone were to want to talk to me about religion, I would take the advice of the people above and ask the person how they feel instead.

    When I applied, I told the DON that I wasn't religious. She had no problem with it.
    Soliloquy likes this.
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    Quote from Soliloquy
    But there are those moments when I have felt very cut off from the other sides of myself. The sides of me that have wanted to be far more than just the labels provided within the institution I am in but that they seemed to work really hard to keep out of the forefront.
    What labels are you referring to?
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    I went to a Catholic university as someone who was raised Catholic but divorced organized religion in high school. I honestly found the nursing school the most non-religious part of the entire institution. We brought condoms donated from Planned Parenthood with us to Central America and did teaching on them with residents in the villages we worked in. The graduate school used to teach NP students in the Women's Health Program to teach Prostitutes how to put condoms on with their mouths. Actually, when I applied to go on the community health clinical experience in Central America, one of the questions I was asked in the interview was "do you have any religious beliefs that would preclude you from teaching about sexual health related matters?" I think if someone said yes, they wouldn't have been chosen for the trip even though it was sponsored by our Catholic college because sexual health was of utmost importance to the village/clinic we would be working in and it was expected that we would do teaching/projects on it.

    So, to answer the OP, no you do not need to be religious to be a good nurse. You learn how to fake it. I have listened to parents tell me stories from the Bible to prove how they knew God wouldn't take their precious child from them (said child died less than a year later) and have helped facilitate countless chaplaincy referrals and participation in a "healing" ceremony for an actively dying child. I don't think any of my patients knew that I thought all of this stuff was a load of bull- it was just important to them that I helped them with their spiritual needs.
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    Quote from tnbutterfly
    What labels are you referring to?
    Well, it doesn't have a direct link to nursing. But the one that stands out to me the most has been "Christian heretic", back when I was a Christian. I was called that in my Theology class.
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    Quote from Soliloquy
    Well, it doesn't have a direct link to nursing. But the one that stands out to me the most has been "Christian heretic", back when I was a Christian. I was called that in my Theology class.
    Well, isn't that just Christian? I went to a Church service once where the pastor said "Never go around telling anyone you are a Christian until you can act like one outside of this Church".

    I'm sorry people were so rude to you!
    elkpark and Soliloquy like this.
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    Quote from Jean Marie46514
    lol, i just recalled, how often, i, as an atheist, have even comforted religious ppl facing death,
    without ever revealing i am not in their boat.

    For example,
    once, a patient of mine, a kinda tough biker dude, who was facing death, and i had developed a very good bond/trust. He asked me if i believed in god. (again, this is not an uncommon question in the critical care areas of a hospital, and does not reflect the pt wants to know, instead, it usually indicates a need for THEM to talk about THEIR ideas or worries or concerns or joys).

    I replied, "do you?"
    and he answered he did, but, that he had not ever been to church for decades, and he felt he had sinned quite a bit in his life, and he went on to say, that he felt he would probably go to hell.

    He was most obviously afraid of hell.

    I told him, something like, "I don't know you super well, Bill, but, you sure seem to have a very good heart, and i'd imagine, that if there is a god, it'd be a perfect god, and a perfect god could see the good in you. You must have done something right in your life, as your family adores you. Near as i can tell,you seem way too kind to be sent to hell, but, if this is a concern on your mind, maybe it'd be best if i send for a chaplain, who can further help you discuss this?"


    stuff like that. Bill never realized i was an atheist.


    hint: my advice, is, do not reveal yourself to be an atheist to your coworkers, either,
    as they will treat you differently. For real, they will. Long after you have forgotten you ever told them, they will bring it up, "Oh, but, you are an atheist" here and there, which always surprized me.
    also,
    they'll pepper you with all the usual questions, like,
    "Well, if you are an atheist, why don't you just go kill ppl?"


    Thing is, to the Original Poster above,
    you still have your heart. You will feel your heart speak to you, just like any other nurse, throughout the day. No gods required. You will sob, just like everyone else, when the baby dies.
    YOu will feel joy and awe, when the child learns to walk on that prosthetic.
    You will ache, when your patient's daughter never does show up that night.
    You will feel wonder and thrills, when a last ditch effort does work.

    no gods are required to share in those moments. I say, gods are optional.

    Just be yourself, follow your own heart, your own inner moral code, and the honor to be present at so many huge moments in so many ppl's lives. Those moments are not about you, it's their moment.
    Jean Marie, I have to tell you this is wonderful! I love love love your reply post. And I am a Christian, or,....a believer...and I, like you, do not reveal that to my co-workers, or patients, or families, unless they ask, because, also, as you said, they will treat you (me) differently. I have seen it both ways, Christian belivers, and nonbelievers, being treated differently because they have different beliefs.

    OP, to answer your question....no. At the end of the day you are responsible for that patient, their well-being, and yours. As you go through your career you will learn how to handle situations that will arise, and you'll leave the shift knowing you did all you could, or you will leave it with just a little bit more knowledge and appreciation than you started with.
    somenurse likes this.
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    To echo others' thoughts, your spirituality/faith does not make any difference in your therapeutic relationship with your patients, because it's not about you. It's about your patients.
    There are many nurses who are religious and/or spiritual, and feel that it lends a deeper meaning to their nursing practice. There are many nurses (including myself) who are atheist/agnostic and are also excellent nurses. The key is respect. I expect respect for my beliefs, just as I respect others' beliefs.
    But like Jean Marie said, it's easier said than done in the workplace. I work for a faith-based organization, and while it's certainly not a requirement to be of that particular religion (and the organization has done a very good job of not alienating employees of any faith or lack thereof), I've still found it easier to navigate the waters of office culture by keeping my mouth shut about my non-belief. I don't discuss politics or religion at work. Occasionally it comes up with patients, and I'll second Jean Marie's strategy for dealing with it, because it works.
    somenurse likes this.


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