Faith diversity and nursing care are the two issues, which have to be evaluated as one whole. Many patients with different faiths have to pass treatment at one hospital. It is necessary to evaluate whether spiritual conditions may influence the success of patient’s treatment and how helpful human faith can be. In this paper, the analysis of three different religions, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witness, and Pentecostal, is offered to define whether the variety of religions is influential in nursing care. With the help of three interviews, the evaluation of faith diversities is possible and can be used to improve the conditions of nursing care.
During their nursing practice, health care providers have to work and cooperate with different people who have different cultural roots. Simmers, Simmers-Nartker, and Simers-Nobelak (2003) admit that spiritual and religious diversity is considered to be an inherent part of any cultural group; this is why nursing practice has to presuppose an idea of spiritual diversity and human wish to get necessary treatment in accordance with everything people may believe into. In this paper, the evaluation of three different interviews will help to define how people with different religions (Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witness, and Pentecostal) and cultural preferences should be treated, and what kind of attitude they expect to get in comparison to the Christian perspective that is widely spread nowadays.
One of the most important questions in the interviews provided is the idea of healing. It is known that each religious introduces a special approach to healing and the conditions under which healing is possible. Though healing may include some dramatic or sudden physical cures (Hickman 2006) and is usually considered to be a positive outcome of treatment, faiths are characterized by different attitudes. For example, a Pentecostal patient truly believes that one day he will be healed miraculously due to his constant prayers, communication with God, and respect to all traditions. Almost the same way is supported by the Christians. Christian patients also believe that they may be healed as a result of constant prayers and keeping the fasts. In comparison to the Christian beliefs, the representative of Jehovah’s Witness cannot understand the idea of healing because their faith is all about endurance and comfort that have to be earned. The traditions of these people reject faith healing and are ready to cooperate with health care providers to be treated properly (Ehman, 2007). The attitude of Buddhism believers to healing is similar to the one of the Christians: if a person deserves to be healed, an opportunity to be healed exists. The only thing that has to be done is evaluation of the reasons of why a person feels ill and definition of the causes.
Taking into consideration the fact that each faith has its attitude to healing, and some of them differ considerably from a Christian perspective, there are several critical components of healing. The Buddhism patient may spend days and nights meditating to get the right of being healed. This person admits that it is better to suffer for some period of time to get an idea that healing is possible. Suffering is considered to be a crucial part of Buddhist style of life (Mauk & Schmidt, 2004), this is why Buddhist believer prefers to communicate with God alone, mediate, and define the main purposes of treatment. The attitude of Jehovah’s Witness to healing is rather pessimistic; so it is impossible to observe some believers praying in hospitals. They prefer to communicate with health care providers and define the nature of the illness. The only place they may reveal, as devoted believers are special meetings. However, the ideas supported by Pentecostal patients are the most interesting to consider: their deep hope about miraculous healing makes them spend much time in hospitals to support a person who feels ill. They prefer to pray exuberantly (Ehman, 2007). Sometimes their prayers are so loud that other patients ask to close doors.
The relation between patients with different faiths and health care providers who are usually Christians differs as well. Though Jehovah’s Witness believers listen to what their nurses tell them and are ready to follow necessary treatment but not wait a miracle from God, they still cannot support some medical methods. For example, the patient interviewed says that he would never agree for blood transfusion even if it were the only way to improve his health. To have another person’s blood in organism is a huge sin that could never be forgiven. Organism is defined as an individual form of life that performs specific functions. Even this definition underlines the fact that organism should be pure personal, and no other substance should be used. Jehovah’s Witness cannot also understand Christians who accept an idea of blood transfusion even if it is rejected by the Bible. A Pentecostal patient demonstrates a kind of neutral relation to health care providers. In spite of the fact that he trusts his God more than his doctor, he is eager to cooperate just to meet the requirements set by society. Finally, a Buddhist patient explains that his attitude to doctors is based on the one demonstrated by the Buddha. Any doctor has an access to human conditions, this is why it is necessary to assist doctors and help them observe the organism and find out the cause of healthy problems. Another significant point is the ability to describe the symptoms and feelings. If a patient wants to get proper treatment, it is necessary to have good communication with doctors.
The last question in the interview conducted is about the attitude of health care providers to their patients and the readiness to refuse their own beliefs to help another person. The answer of the Jehovah’s Witness patient is rather impressive. He cannot even think that faith diversity may prevent a person to save someone’s life. There are some situations when people have to neglect their interests but put a human life on the first place. Still, if a person in need refuses some help, it is his choice, and this choice should be respected as well. Buddhists and Pentecostal have almost the same attitude to this question. As well as the representatives of Christianity, people of different faiths appreciate the life of every person. It is almost always possible to consider personal beliefs and the conditions under which the life may be saved. Nursing practice may require letting personal beliefs go; however, it is necessary to remember that this kind of practice has its purposes, which need to be achieved by a variety of methods.
The interviews conducted have some educative aspects. First, it is defined that cultural diversity causes spiritual diversities, which may predetermine the patient’s style of life and attitude to medical treatment. Secondly, each religion has its peculiarities in accordance with which patients may rely on their self-confidence and the possibility of healing. And finally, health care services should never be predetermined by some religious preferences because when a human life is under consideration, there should be no place for judging, evaluating, and choice. The only task is to save a life.
Ehman, J. (2007). Religious Diversity: Practical Points for Health Care Providers. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania & Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Web.
Hickman, J. S. (2006). Faith Community Nursing. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Mauk, K & Schmidt, N.A. (2004). The Role of the Nurse in the Spiritual Journey. In Spiritual Care in Nursing Practice by K. Mauk and N. Schmidt. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Simmers, L., Simmers-Nartker, K. & Simers-Nobelak, S. (2003). Diversified Health Occupations. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Learning.