Published Oct 11, 2014
I was doing my OB rotation when the instructor brings us out into the hall. She says that there is a young mom who is delivering multiple babies now and the babies are very preterm. None of them survived.
She wanted us to go and see their remains, which was a good thing, as it gives us an idea of how a baby looks as it's developing.
The hard part for me was when she said she was going to baptize the babies. She proceeded to get a cup of water and pour some on the babies' heads and pray over them.
I asked her, "Did the mom ask for this?"
Response: "No. It's just something I like to do. Most people are Christian around here anyway." (We live in the heart of the Bible belt.)
This made me very angry, and I wanted to know how the rest of you feel.
meanmaryjean, DNP, RN
Wow- your instructor crossed a line there.
CT Pixie, BSN, RN
As meanmaryjean said, she crossed a line..but not only did he/she cross the line..he/she kept on going FARRRR past that line!
I would be livid if someone did that to my family members without permission (and I'm Catholic). Your instructor has no idea the faith that the mom is associated with (if any at all). And to assume she's Christian because 'most people are Christian around here'...I just have no words!
I worked with a nurse that baptized a premature fetus post miscarriage....the difference was it was at parental request. The clergy was not able to get there due to weather and the nurse happened to be of the same place. I was the ER tech assigned to the room and asked to stay as a witness. It was somber and beautiful at the same time. Parents were devastated but comforted as we used a white blanket to swaddle the child.
Totally opposite of your scenario. Baptism on the sly. What if the parent(s) weren't Christian?
As a student you likely could not have said more than you did. Use this situation to develop your own ethical & moral practice.
LadyFree28, BSN, LPN, RN
I agree with JBN, use this incident as a lesson.
And to echo the others...she crossed a MAJOR line.
I have baptized many, many dead or dying children but not once EVER would I have considered doing it without an explicit request from the parents. I always asked, if the circumstances arose, if there was anything THEIR faith required me to do while caring for their child. To take it upon oneself to do anything to someone else's child is an egregious violation of parental rights.
Also, frankly, I see no value in having the students view the bodies of the babies. It was not an educational experience and borders on voyeurism on the part of the instructor. If I was the mom I would be livid. This instructor sounds cracked in the head.
When I was in nursing school I had an instructor ambush our clinical group one afternoon with a Native American religious ceremony. I told her I was uncomfortable with it as it went against my religious beliefs. Well that got me kicked out of clinicals that day and she tried to get me kicked out of the program. It wasn't until I threatened the school with a lawsuit did she back down. It was horrible. I can't imagine holding my tongue while this instructor baptized the infants without their parents knowledge! I'm livid just thinking about!!
It's amazing the things people think are okay. Hopefully you won't have to deal with again and you may want to bring it up to the head of your school once this semester is over. This instructor should not be doing this!!
If I saw that happen I would be very upset. Definitely crossing a line to do this with out explicit family request, and even then I'd say Chaplain is the more appropriate party on many levels to carry out a blessing or baptism unless the family requests that a particular provider do it because of a relationship that they may have built with that person through their care.
This should be mentioned on the end of semester faculty eval. The instructor crossed a major line.
Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN
When I was in nursing school I had an instructor ambush our clinical group one afternoon with a Native American religious ceremony. I told her I was uncomfortable with it as it went against my religious beliefs. Well that got me kicked out of clinicals that day and she tried to get me kicked out of the program. It wasn't until I threatened the school with a lawsuit did she back down.
Go, you! My current RN-to-BSN program has some instructors that are in love w/ certain spiritual practices that I am, shall we say, not in love with. As in, hold-a-gun-to-my-head,-still-not-happening, not in love with. Once I did have to excuse myself, but fortunately she did back off when I said "I have religious conflicts w/ this practice." Wise choice on her part, b/c she'd be messing w/ the wrong gal. Sounds like yours messed w/ the wrong gal, too. I'm sorry you were in that position though. And especially to threaten to fail you like that...total abuse of power.
OP, I agree with the others. Even if the mother was Christian, this CI didn't know if she wanted the babies baptized or not. I'm Christian, and the only one of my five kids who is baptized is my 12 yr old. We are Reformed Baptists. She got baptized when SHE asked to be and was able to explain what the credo-baptist teaches baptism is for. I have heard of baptizing stillborn/miscarried babies in Catholicism, but I'm not sure that's official teaching even; I've seen conflicting things on it. Maybe the AN Catholics can correct me if I'm wrong...but otherwise, as far as I know, other pedo-baptizing denominations only baptize living babies. So anyway, even if she was Christian--which sounds like it was an assumption based on geographical area vs. assessing the pt and family--she can't reasonably assume that this practice would be in line with HER beliefs.
KelRN215, BSN, RN
I've never been aware that any random person could perform a baptism. This is weird and VERY over the line. Just because "most" people are Christians doesn't mean this family is or that they would want the CI doing this. I'd be very mad if I was a grieving mother and found out something like this was done to my children. Mad enough to file an official complaint with the hospital AND the school.
RNsRWe, ASN, RN
Your instructor is so far past the threshold of ethical boundaries that she can't even SEE the line from where she's standing.
I'm with Kel on this; if I were the mother and found out about it, I'd OWN that instructor AND the school. AND the hospital for allowing this nutcase to hold clinicals there.
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