Do You Have To Be Religious/Spiritual to be a good Nurse? - page 4

by Soliloquy

7,386 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


  1. 0
    Well, if this hasn't already been addressed by others, what does "certainly not Catholic" mean?!

    That being said. I work with a couple of people who think if you're not "in your face" Christian, that makes you not even a good person, much less nurse, and I REALLY don't agree with that logic! In a nutshell, no, I don't think you have to be religious or spiritual (although in my mind, these CAN be 2 very different things) to be a good nurse. I know of a very atheists who kick serious booty as being a nurse, so they would blow that theory right out of the water!

    Quote from Soliloquy
    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 this is what I keep seeing. I like myself, know what I like and dislike, what I want to do, where I'd like to go, but I'm not religious (certainly not Catholic) and the only link I have to Christianity is my liking and connection to the Bible. My "spirituality" is derived from my ability to trust myself unconditionally. But being here has made me wonder if I have to be solidly spiritual/religious in order to thrive in the world of nursing.

    Also, I'm not one for groupthink and dogma and at times I feel as though many of my peers are and the professors seem to expect it. I don't kiss up to authority figures and treat everyone as a person regardless of status (all people, as far as I'm concerned, deserve respect and if I unable to provide that, I avoid them). But it drives me crazy the way they behave and they find me to be very antisocial/unsocial and distant. I'm none of these things, but just feel as though I'm fully capable of thinking, feeling, and acting on my own and for myself. Yes, I ask for help when I need it and I am friendly, but I don't feel as though I have to put my desires on the back burner if I don't have to.

    I'm struggling guys and really just feeling uncomfortable with all the feedback I keep getting. I'm about to be in the real world and I want to make sure that IT is not like my college experience.
  2. 2
    Um, you're going to find this wherever you go "in the real world". Yes, even in nursing. "not willing to submit to superiors" could be a potential problem area for you---wherever you may end up =(

    Quote from Soliloquy
    I'm respectful with everyone because treating people with a certain level of respect seems deserved to me. But I'm not willing to submit to superiors, especially if it goes against what I feel to be right. There were those moments where I felt they expected me to yield if for no other reason than they were of a certain status. My hope is that this is not required for this field
    elkpark and wooh like this.
  3. 2
    I'm very sorry that nursing school at this particular institute of higher education was not the experience you'd hoped for. However, it usually stands to reason that people attend a certain type of college to immerse themselves in a particular culture--ie: a faith-based university tends to attract those who are absolute in their faith and are hungry to learn more about it. Not EVERYONE, of course, but I think you'll find more often than not that this is the trend.
    I'm glad you're able to speak with someone about your feelings, I hope they are able to help.

    Quote from Soliloquy
    I've been talking to a counselor on this topic because you're right, I do feel hurt by my experiences. My peers made the right decision for their faith (most went to religious schools all their lives) but I did not. I chose this school for the education and with the belief that I would come here and meet people who, even though they came from a certain background, were willing to move beyond their comforts to explore. Instead, their faith became further established while I was...ostracized. For many here, their faith is a major part of their nursing practice. The teachings and famous nurses mentioned and that we learn here on nursing practice often stem from the dogma. In fact, I have had many professors, good nurses, who have stated that their religious beliefs are a firm part of their practice. As an individual who came from a Christian background, but who feels very little connection to the dogma and ideologies, I do have a hard time, dealing with self-doubt (what I know of nursing comes from this school) and wondered if I could in fact be a good nurse despite my lack of desire to partake in religion at this point. My question has been answered here on this thread though.
    Soliloquy and elkpark like this.
  4. 4
    Quote from Jean Marie46514
    No, one does not have to be religious nor even spiritual to be a good nurse.
    I am a lifelong atheist, and have been very effective at comforting all types of ppl, facing all types of issues, and have even worked hospice.

    I learned decades ago, that my being an out atheist at work, is not helpful. I was very young, i made mistakes at first. Atheists (not that YOU are an atheist, but, i am) are not usually trusted by non-atheists. Once or twice, i was even re-assigned at the patient request, when he asked me if i believed in god, and i replied no. He said he couldn't trust an atheist.

    That is when i learned how to respond in a more therapeutic way. Each person has to find their own way, but, i think being non-spiritual, could be similar to a religious person caring for a person of another faith. I'd imagine, or hope, that say, a christian nurse, in caring for a Jewish or Muslim patient, for example, would be able to honor and respect that patient, even though they do not worship the same gods.

    Imo, it's kinda like that as an atheist.

    I step over their gods all day long. It's surprising, how often a nurse gets asked, "Nurse, do you believe in Jesus/God/Lord,?" Turns out, the patient usually does not want to know,
    and when they ask this, they are more hoping for a springboard for their own self to discuss their beliefs, or how their beliefs are helping them in this crisis.

    I have close pal, who is an atheist doctor, and he and i chuckled, in the combined 94 years of medical service between us, not once, has any patient ever noticed, we do NOT actually answer the question. For real, the patients don't even notice. and not one of our coworkers knows either one of us is godless, either.

    I am not "out" AT WORK. I myself rather wish, that ppl left politics and gods out of their workplaces, but, i step over these topics. Frankly, i dislike being ostracized by others for having a different opinion, and i honestly do not have time to have debates with either coworkers or patients. In fact, i think it'd be rather unhelpful, to debate a patient, unless in a joking fashion. Each person has a right to their own beliefs. (even me)

    I simply find another way to reply. I reply with remarks like, "Is your faith very important to you?" and after they've went on for a while, i change subject gently, or, if it seems appropriate, offer to summon a preacher/minister, etc.

    If they ask, "What church do you go to?" this is usually code for, "I want to tell you about MY church!" so instead of answering, i usually say something like, "What church do you belong to?" and rapidly follow up, some other question about that church, "Is that a large church?" or "How long have you been a member there?" or "Must feel comforting that so many are praying for you, they must really care about you."

    I do not ever lie. I don't partake in religious rituals, such as prayer circles around the bed, etc. That is the one line i won't cross, in some small way, to be true to my own self, however small and silent that might be. Instead, i look at my watch, and say, "Oh, i have to go pass meds/change a dressing/call a doc/check on patient" something, and leave room.

    This moment is not about ME.
    This moment is about my patient.


    WHATEVER comforts my patient, is what i want to support, whether or not, i believe in that god.
    I do believe in God and I could not have said this better myself. WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!!!

    OP.....I think you choice of school is what influences their perspective on things. I make it a point. I don't discuss politics or religion. My business is my business......I don't enter the political discussions here....I find them exhausting and futile. People are going to believe what they want to believe....that is their right. My job is to care for them and make them feel better.

    You don't have to be religious to be a nurse but you need to be respectful of others beliefs when caring for them.

    Good Luck!!!!
    Last edit by Esme12 on Nov 27, '12
    Soliloquy, nursel56, somenurse, and 1 other like this.
  5. 1
    Personally I think it can help, so long as you are not judgmental toward others that are of differing faiths and such. Then again, I have met a good number of judgmental atheists and agnositics, so that can go either way too.

    The idea is that being in touch with yourself spiritually speaking can hopefully help you to better appreciate empathy and insight into spirituality and tenderness toward such things in others. There are other things, but I'd start with that. And yes, you can be of no particular faith and have empathy and compassion, but there's a close relationship with spirutual and emotional dynamics IMHO. Of course most people are more spiritually sensitive or curious than what they are willing to accept. That too is interesting to me.
    Soliloquy likes this.
  6. 2
    being spiritual and being religious are different. To answer your question, you do not have to be religious, but you will not be effective as a nurse if you do not respect the spiritual side of others. Can you change schools so you can concentrate on nursing, not religion?
    Soliloquy and somenurse like this.
  7. 3
    I have a simple rule: I do not discuss politics or religion in the workplace. I think that to do so leads to confusion and destruction

    I am a person of faith, but my religion is very outside the mainstream and would be misunderstood by the majority of people, so I don't talk about it in the workplace. I've met many atheists who are dear and kind people and quite a number of Christians or other religious people who were, frankly, douches.

    When I worked in hospice, we were taught that spirituality was "a search for meaning". I like that definition way better than any religious doctrine.

    -girlpolice
    blodeuwedd, Soliloquy, and somenurse like this.
  8. 1
    Quote from Soliloquy
    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 this is what I keep seeing. I like myself, know what I like and dislike, what I want to do, where I'd like to go, but I'm not religious (certainly not Catholic) and the only link I have to Christianity is my liking and connection to the Bible. My "spirituality" is derived from my ability to trust myself unconditionally. But being here has made me wonder if I have to be solidly spiritual/religious in order to thrive in the world of nursing.

    Also, I'm not one for groupthink and dogma and at times I feel as though many of my peers are and the professors seem to expect it. I don't kiss up to authority figures and treat everyone as a person regardless of status (all people, as far as I'm concerned, deserve respect and if I unable to provide that, I avoid them). But it drives me crazy the way they behave and they find me to be very antisocial/unsocial and distant. I'm none of these things, but just feel as though I'm fully capable of thinking, feeling, and acting on my own and for myself. Yes, I ask for help when I need it and I am friendly, but I don't feel as though I have to put my desires on the back burner if I don't have to.

    I'm struggling guys and really just feeling uncomfortable with all the feedback I keep getting. I'm about to be in the real world and I want to make sure that IT is not like my college experience.
    As with the others, NO you don't. I've been Wiccan for the 30yrs I've been a nurse and it hasn't hurt my nursing, ever. Actually, it's helped and in a big way. Change schools, programs or just hang in and know to be yourself and not someone else's version.
    somenurse likes this.
  9. 2
    Absolutely NOT! In my experience, those with strict religious beliefs care about one thing.....values based on a book about fantasy/male domination. That does not equate to patient advocacy, in any way.
    kabfighter and somenurse like this.
  10. 1
    I am a Christian and I served in Christian outreach for 10 years before deciding to go back to school and study nursing. The only fast Bach program in my area was at a Baptist university that required religion or Bible courses as a pre-req. I decided to stick with the ADN program partly because I did not want to have to deal with Baptist indoctrination (been there, done that, and left it a long time ago).

    That said, nursing school is a juggling act no matter where you go to school. My spiritual beliefs have set me apart from a lot of my class mates. I am friendly with most of them, but we are not close. That is OK. I am there to get an education, and to become a nurse.

    You will survive this and become a great nurse. It is important to know yourself and what you believe. But like the poster who is an atheist said the care you give is about your patient, not about you, so it is important to learn how to speak therapeutically without offering your own religious views and opinions.
    somenurse likes this.


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