conscientiousnurse........I appreciate your comments. It is great that now, since you are in a teaching position and are responsible for instructing others how to provide spiritual care, you are indeed being a conscientious nurse and wanting to discuss how to provide this type of care.
When meeting the spiritual needs of the patient, we always need to take our cues from them and never impose our religious beliefs on them. We need to assess spiritual needs just as we are to assess physical and psychological needs. Many times patients are going through spiritual distress as they are dealing with overwhelming health challenges. As a nurse, we must try to meet those spiritual needs, either directly or through the help of another person such as a chaplain, clergy, parish nurse, priest, etc.
If the patient requests prayer, then either the nurse, if he/she is comfortable doing so, or another, such as the chaplain, should provide prayer. It is fine, as part of the spiritual assessment, to ask if the patient has a religious affiliation or is a member of a religious community, or would like someone from a religious organization to be contacted. You can ask the patient how they would like you to address their spiritual needs in their healthcare, or how you can assist them in their spiritual care. The patient and family to whom religion/spiritual issues play an important role in their lives will be very glad that you asked them to share their beliefs and asked how you might best meet their needs.
You might want to read some of my blog entries in my allnurses staff blog, Body, Mind, and Soul
where I discuss other aspects of spiritual care in nursing.