Published Aug 23, 2015
Are there any other atheist nurses out there? How do you handle how religious healthcare is? I don't feel comfortable praying with a patient but I will find someone who is comfortable but the minute I say "I am not comfortable praying with you but let me go get you someone who can pray with you" and I go ask other people on the floor if they would pray with my patient I have been told everything from "just suck it up and fake it" to "I wish you atheists would quit trying to push your religion down our throats" to the other nurses saying I should be fired because this is a Christian (insert hospital or state or country).
i have never tried to convert someone away from their religion. There are not a lot off options since the hospitals in my area are St Joseph's, St Anthony's, Lutheran
Jules A, MSN
Although I'm no fan of organized religion in general I have on occasion sat with patients while they pray and often say a prayer for someone who it would mean a lot to. Personally I don't see the big deal, to me it is more about spending some time being respectful while comforting my patient rather than the actual praying.
Truth is who the heck is going to know if you are mentally making your shopping list, silently singing "I like big butts" or saying a prayer?
Miss Infermiera2b, BSN, RN
I consider myself an agnostic atheist. I live in Florida, so as you can imagine, I'm among a lot of religious nursing students. If a patient asked me to pray with them, I'd probably just silently sit with them for emotional support, but I definitely would not lead a prayer. I was extremely religious for the first 20 years of my life and that's a part of me that I'd like to leave behind.
This is the sort of thing that has to be handled on a case by case basis. My coworkers make the occasional comment about me needing Jesus, but have never made hateful comments about me not deserving my job.
You coworkers don't sounds very tolerant, and I'm sorry that they're being so mean. If it was just one person, I'd suggest that you report it to the manager. But, if it's several people, that makes me think that sort of attitude is widespread on your unit. If you reported someone, no doubt nasty rumors would start that you're trying to start a devil worshiping cult and want to make all praying illegal in your hospital. I'd be very careful.
Your best bet would be to figure out how you can contact a chaplain directly, and to stop asking your coworkers to pray with your patients. I know it's awkward pretending to pray with people, but it could make your work environment a whole lot more pleasant.
My coworkers know I'm an atheist, but I waited a long time before I let anyone know. I'm at a point now where I straight up lie when my patients ask me. I've found that the kind of person who asks a complete stranger about their religious beliefs isn't prepared for any answer other than what they want to hear.
If all else fails, you might have to switch jobs. In my experience, if someone is intolerant of your religious views, there's nothing you can do that will get them to come around.
I have left clinical nursing for the most part. I only work part time and work in the medical technology field full-time. I have sat and faked it before but I have gotten caught up in situations where I have agreed to pray and then the person either asks me to lead it or repeat after them and I feel like a hypocrite by saying a prayer out loud.
I hate to have to wake one of the sisters (the hospital has an onsite convention) to pray with a patient at 1am because they are worried about a simple surgery the next day. I would wake them if it were something major or death was imminent or likely.
I think there must be a god because this $&@& app has crashed on me 3 times already and she must know I'm going to proclaim my atheist ways!
As I was trying to say....
Put in atheist in a search on the site and you should get some useful information.
As a home hospice Rn, I usually say "of course". When asked if I'll say a prayer for them. But if they ask about what I believe, I'll try to tell them in a gentle way.
melizerd, ASN, RN
I don't mind sitting with a patient and holding their hand while THEY pray. Of they ask me to pray I tell them "I'd be happy to sit with you and hold hands while you pray" delivered in a really nice voice it usually works. If they ask me directly I'm always honest that I'm an atheist. But I believe in positive thinking and good vibes and I would always want to send positive thoughts into the universe. Most people don't ask though.
I have rarely had occasion to "come out" as an atheist at work, and nobody's ever given me grief because I'm choosy about who I tell.
I agree with the PP who said "call the chaplain." It's what they're there for, and if yours are anything like ours, they're GREAT at what they do.
Been there,done that, ASN, RN
I think separation of church and state, is the same thing as separation from church and work.
Is there anything in your job description that states you must pray with your patients?
That being said... if you are atheist... how could prayer offend you? It's just (another) need of your patient.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Why would you respond to that question?
Why would I lie? Nobody else feels the need to lie if they believe in something. I've only been directly asked twice and I always offer chaplain services early in a discussion about prayer so it's been offered before anyone asked my personal preferences. Neither family had an issue though they were surprised. Both were families/patients that I'd been taking care of for awhile. Maybe regionally it's not as big of an issue where I am?
I did not say you should lie, I said... you should not respond ,your beliefs are personal.
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