Even though medical healing is mainly based upon scientific beliefs, one cannot discount the effect of religious beliefs in the healing of a patient. For many people with a strong religious conviction, the simple belief in the power of prayer is enough to create signs of healing even in the most critical of patients.
Even though the effects of prayer are undocumented, there is a growing belief among many that faith plays a significant role in healing a patient when science has given him up for dead. In the medical field, nurses are slowly realizing that a diversity of faith among their patients has them in a bind. Not all nurses are religious, nor do they share the same religious traditions as the patient. In such instances, it is up to the nurse to find a middle ground where they can honor the religious beliefs of individual patients without losing sight of their own religion.
Nursing is a highly technical occupation. This is why even though nurses realize that each patient has a spiritual need, the nurse may not always be trained to respond to it. So this job is usually relegated to the hospital’s pastoral care workers even though nurses would be better placed to deliver such patient needs. It is not for a nurse to question the religious beliefs of her patients, but it is her job to insure that these beliefs are fully utilized in the process of helping a patient to heal both physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Unfortunately, the nursing shortage in the country does not leave the nurses with much to connect on a personal basis with their patients. Patient care and comfort are forgone in lieu of time management and getting the job done. Though nurses have traditionally been viewed as both medical and spiritual healers because of the personal connection they have with their wards, the lack of time and instruction as to how to combine patient care and religion are sending our nurses off the original objectives of why they became nurses.
Roberta Bube, RN, PHN currently works part time as nurse at the Marion Medical Center in Santa Maria, Calif. According to her interview in Nurseweek for the article “You Gotta Have Fait”, she realized that “You have to address mind, body and spirit, I always found time to do it [in a hospital]. I did have to be cautious. I’d have to do it quietly. Everybody’s beliefs are different.” So, how can a nurse integrate the religious aspect and its various differences in their daily dealings with their individual patients?
Firstly, a nurse can typicall