Religion in the work place

  1. Is religion or lack there of, ever a problem in the workplace for Nurses? Has anyone gone through a difficult situation involving a conflict about religion?
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    About Blufea

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 7


  3. by   decembergrad2011
    I am an atheist and keep my religious views private, so I have not encountered it being a problem. I have held hands and prayed with patients before, nodded along encouragingly while they've talked about their own beliefs, and read from the Bible, but in most cases I refer them to the chaplain and allow them to work in their role of spiritual advisor for the patient. That's what the chaplain is there for, and they are a great resource.

    I've been cornered a couple of times when a patient has asked me directly about my religious beliefs, and I normally counter with a question such as, "Are you interested in talking with the chaplain?" or "What's on your mind about religion?" 9 times out of 10, the patient wants affirmation and to be heard out, not to intimately discuss the merits of various religions.

    As far as co-workers are concerned, it's really none of their business and I tend to stay away from those conversations. No need to get into a debate or face judgment in an already highly stressful workplace.
  4. by   TheCommuter
    I'm a spiritual person who believes in God and the power of prayer, but I do not actively belong to any single religion.

    Anyhow, I live in a Bible Belt state and am constantly being asked which church I attend. Around here, it is automatically assumed that everyone is religious and a practicing Southern Baptist.
  5. by   KelRN215
    I am not religious... the only time I ever had a problem was during the 2008 election when a former co-worker told me that A) Obama is a Muslim and B) All Muslims want to kill all non-Muslims. She then told me I was lucky to have survived when I informed her that I had a number of close friends from the Middle East. My head nearly exploded from the conversation.

    This was at a large hospital that served patients from all over the world... I took care of MANY Muslim patients in my time there. It was quite disturbing to hear that a nurse at this institution was so bigoted against all Muslims in that sense....
  6. by   VivaLasViejas
    I am a practicing Catholic with an active, vigorous faith in my Lord and Savior, and I am proud to profess that faith wherever I go. However, it's not my job as a nurse to talk about my faith with patients, let alone try to convert them. When I am at work, my job is to provide them with the competent care and the compassion they need, and to make the healthcare experience about them, not me.

    Yes, I've prayed for patients, with patients, even over patients, but only when they request it and only when I'm comfortable providing spiritual care. I would never presume to know what goes on during a Muslim prayer service or a pagan ritual, so I would have to find someone who does know about non-Christian religious rites; but I would never disrespect a patient's religion or lack thereof. While I love attending a baptism and thinking "Yay, we got another one for our side!" it's not up to me to make those choices for the patients in my care. Makes things pretty simple, don't you think?
  7. by   Blufea
    I've had a few situations where I was cornered. It was difficult to deal with because it was a manager who brought it up. I was just asking to see how much of a problem it is.

    Its good to support patients when they need it the most and I can't say how much I appreciate people who are respectful!
  8. by   Blufea
    It seems to be the opinion of the media too. Its so sad.
  9. by   boomertx
    Quote from Blufea
    I've had a few situations where I was cornered. It was difficult to deal with because it was a manager who brought it up. I was just asking to see how much of a problem it is.
    From my experience here in the U.S. if you are asked by someone at work, especially a manager, ask them first if they are a "christian" and if they say "yes", then respond with "well so am I" and if they are some other religion, you can be otherwise honest. btw, I am a buddhist.
    Last edit by boomertx on Jun 29, '12 : Reason: grammar usage wrong
  10. by   Saiderap
    I was badly offended by a co-worker who was a regular church member and devout Christian who had the "us and them" mentality who saw certain staff-members as being evil, eg. "We're seeing the real Pattie," or "There is a force to be dealt with and her name is......"
    One morning I came in to work and overheard her calling someone a "miserable a------." What ever happened to that phenomena of God taking all the swear words out of their mouths?
    I remember one day when she was talking openly about someone's sexuality and referring to her a "counterpart" of one of our patients.

    There are those who use religion to keep themselves on a high and mighty pedestal where they can look down at anyone who's having problems. With their gossip and their own short tempers they are no better than the rest of us and are a part of what makes health care such a difficult profession.
    I don't mind devout Christians at work when they don't look down at their co-workers.
  11. by   carolinapooh
    Which makes them neither devout nor very Christian as far as I'm concerned..."judge not lest ye be judged" and all that - and yes, that's a slight misquote, but it seems to get forgotten a lot in the name of 'Christianity', which is beginning to bear very little resemblance to any Christianity I'm familiar with.

  12. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from boomertx
    From my experience here in the U.S. if you are asked by someone at work, especially a manager, ask them first if they are a "christian" and if they say "yes", then respond with "well so am I" and if they are some other religion, you can be otherwise honest. btw, I am a buddhist.
    If they're asking at work, they need to be careful, lest anything they do thereafter be deemed harassment based on religious preference. And because of that, I'll go out on a limb and say I believe it's illegal to ask, even at a religious-affiliated health care institution.

    The correct answer is, if you don't care to answer (and you can if you want), "I don't answer such questions in the workplace." Regardless of who asks it.

    That said, I had a patient when I was a student once ask me to pray for him - to lead him in prayer. He was a pastor who had been dx'd with prostate cancer and was having surgery. I'm just spiritual enough, and I believe in God profoundly, that I was comfortable doing it. LOL, though, because I told him I don't know how I'd do since he was the professional in that case.

    I'll never forget him; I clicked with him from day one and was strangely honored that he'd asked me to do it. But I did it because I want to; we'd established a bit of a relationship over a couple of days and I was fine with it. My guess is he'd figured out he wasn't out of line in asking. I stumbled through the task (I'm no Right Reverend, to be sure!), apologized for my ineptitude - he looked so relieved and so pleased that I was immediately glad I'd tried.

    Remembering it - and him - still makes me smile.

    I've had a few cancer patients that I know very well and I've told them, since I know how important their faith is to them - and again, I'm comfortable - that what 'we' need to do is give the little stuff to the medical staff (treatment, comfort, and all that goes with it) and the big stuff to the Lord, put it in His hands. But I know these people; I would never presume to do this with someone I didn't know as well as that.

    I always ask if someone would like to talk to a Chaplain. Sometimes I've even encouraged it - in the military we're sometimes afraid of what may get back to our superiors, but a Chaplain is bound by oath to not repeat nor report ANYTHING said - and I always share my own experiences: I had a few problems when I was enlisted and I trusted it to a Catholic priest, who happened to be the available chaplain the day I went to the Base Chapel. He was wonderful. I talked to a Chaplain in basic training (I am a domestic abuse survivor and I was having nightmares about it) who helped me tremendously.

    I really like the way decembergrad2011 described dealing with religion - it honors the pt's beliefs and keeps their own private. It assists the patient greatly, I'm sure.
  13. by   amoLucia
    Some years ago, a co-worker nurse organized a VOLUNTARY prayer circle group of staff in the day-room to start the day just after report. I didn't really think it was appropriate but no pts were involved so I just quietly kept my distance behind the desk.

    After about a week, I found myself standing in the dayroom, altho not part of the circle. But just listening.

    About another week later, I found myself closer - kind of nodding with the prayer.

    I finally joined the circle. The prayer was generic & simple in recognizing our own health & wellness and for that of our family. And asking that we safely practice caring for our pts. I think that is what we all wish for. I felt comfortable with that.


    The one thing I am a stickler for is to check out if Catholic pts have had their Last Rites performed. While it's not a personal thing for me, I do know that it is important for that age generation that I work with. Pts and families are usually very appreciative that I took the step to make that arrangement. When I get report that someone is going downhill, my first inquiry is to ask "Is he/she Catholic and was he/she anointed?"

    My first job was at a Catholic hospital and that was a priority.
  14. by   FurBabyMom
    I'm a Catholic. I don't talk about it very often at work. Only in select occasions with people I know well. We had a day in the residency program I was in that we examined our own feelings about situations - including death/patient deaths. My cohort members, as such, I know their religious preferences/affiliations, and some of my other coworkers I know their beliefs because they bring it up.

    When I worked a previous job, some of the little old ladies I took care of asked about my religion, and/or their families asked. I generally asked if there was something they'd be interested in discussing with a chaplain or clergy member. I don't mind admitting my religion but it's not 100% appropriate. There were groups of people in the area I used to live and practice in who were very set in their ways of disliking Catholics. The MOST I ever revealed in those situations was that I was in fact a Christian. They always pressed to see where I went to church, and I simply told them "In (city name of where I lived)". Yep. Living 75 miles away from work had benefits!