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Praying with Patients
#1

Praying with Patients
Not sure if this is the right section, since it’s half rant, half looking for insight.

Today I had a patient praying, where she mumbled to herself for about 30 minutes in the procedure room while we were waiting on the doctor to arrive. You do you, I’m gonna finish setting up. The doctor walked in, asked if she had any questions, and walked out. Pretty standard - dude is busy with a high patient load and won’t be finished until at least 8 pm so he can start all over tomorrow at 6 am, that’s why you waited 30 minutes. She was PISSED the doctor didn’t stay to pray with her, he walked out before she got the chance to ask.

She tried to demand he come back in to pray, then she stuck her hands out and had me and the other nurse hold them while she prayed out loud. “Pray with me.” Umm, thanks for the vote of confidence in our ability to do our jobs with over 100 years of experience between the five of us. I’ve been less uncomfortable after being groped. I don’t appreciate being in a position where I have to participate to keep from having a complaint that could cost me my job for being intolerant of a patient’s religion. The narcissism, the audacity of it all. Honey, you had one of the best anesthesiologists at the hospital, one of the best CRNAs, the best GI doc in the region, two procedure nurses both with ICU and ED backgrounds. You weren’t in God’s hands, you were in competent, human hands. Human hands that do make human errors. And the doc and I did make a tiny, almost error - that wasn’t god, either. And then we fixed it with a clip. You woke up fine and you don’t and won’t have colorectal cancer (provided she continues to follow up on schedule). Why? Preventative healthcare and science, education, training, experience, genetics.

What am I supposed to do? Say, “I’m sorry, I don’t share the same beliefs but go ahead and pray” right before we knock her out so that I can be reported later? So her congregants can all spread half truths about the terrible nurses who refused to *gasp* pray with a poor sister before she could have a routine procedure where she might have DIED?! Christians are being oppressed in a hospital!!! Happy patients sue less - I was taught that in Nursing Fundamentals 14 years ago. But damn, I feel violated. At least I didn’t burst into flames. Had it not been for fear of losing my job, I wouldn’t have participated. It’s been YEARS. In the past few years while in the ICU I’ve said, “y’all go ahead and pray, I’m going to keep working” and the patients and their families have been cool with it. This was forced on me.

On the one hand, it was “only” two minutes of time blathering to an imaginary friend that made her feel better and brought her comfort, patient centered care and all that. But it was at *my* expense of two unbearably long minutes of extreme discomfort, delay of care for every other patient that day, and hours later it still bothers me. I am sick and tired of the presumption that a kind face (half face, I was wearing a mask and a scrub cap) is Christian - my actions today reinforced that ridiculous stereotype that exists here. But, right before a procedure isn’t an appropriate time to take a stand for my own non-belief. I sucked it up and I feel awful about it, I feel dirty. Not sure why, I still suck it up and pray at family gatherings, I don’t post any humanist or atheist quotes on my social media so I’m not outed to my family. I guess it’s because I expect it there, and work is my safe place where I’m out to many of my coworkers and don’t typically lie about it when people ask.

What would you have done?
"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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#2

Praying with Patients
"You are in God's hands. You don't need me to pray with you, but other patients do need me. Trust in that."
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#3

Praying with Patients
(03-31-2021, 01:45 AM)Nursey Wrote: Not sure if this is the right section, since it’s half rant, half looking for insight.

Today I had a patient praying, where she mumbled to herself for about 30 minutes in the procedure room while we were waiting on the doctor to arrive. You do you, I’m gonna finish setting up. The doctor walked in, asked if she had any questions, and walked out. Pretty standard - dude is busy with a high patient load and won’t be finished until at least 8 pm so he can start all over tomorrow at 6 am, that’s why you waited 30 minutes. She was PISSED the doctor didn’t stay to pray with her, he walked out before she got the chance to ask.

She tried to demand he come back in to pray, then she stuck her hands out and had me and the other nurse hold them while she prayed out loud. “Pray with me.” Umm, thanks for the vote of confidence in our ability to do our jobs with over 100 years of experience between the five of us. I’ve been less uncomfortable after being groped. I don’t appreciate being in a position where I have to participate to keep from having a complaint that could cost me my job for being intolerant of a patient’s religion. The narcissism, the audacity of it all. Honey, you had one of the best anesthesiologists at the hospital, one of the best CRNAs, the best GI doc in the region, two procedure nurses both with ICU and ED backgrounds. You weren’t in God’s hands, you were in competent, human hands. Human hands that do make human errors. And the doc and I did make a tiny, almost error - that wasn’t god, either. And then we fixed it with a clip. You woke up fine and you don’t and won’t have colorectal cancer (provided she continues to follow up on schedule). Why? Preventative healthcare and science, education, training, experience, genetics.

What am I supposed to do? Say, “I’m sorry, I don’t share the same beliefs but go ahead and pray” right before we knock her out so that I can be reported later? So her congregants can all spread half truths about the terrible nurses who refused to *gasp* pray with a poor sister before she could have a routine procedure where she might have DIED?! Christians are being oppressed in a hospital!!! Happy patients sue less - I was taught that in Nursing Fundamentals 14 years ago. But damn, I feel violated. At least I didn’t burst into flames. Had it not been for fear of losing my job, I wouldn’t have participated. It’s been YEARS. In the past few years while in the ICU I’ve said, “y’all go ahead and pray, I’m going to keep working” and the patients and their families have been cool with it. This was forced on me.

On the one hand, it was “only” two minutes of time blathering to an imaginary friend that made her feel better and brought her comfort, patient centered care and all that. But it was at *my* expense of two unbearably long minutes of extreme discomfort, delay of care for every other patient that day, and hours later it still bothers me. I am sick and tired of the presumption that a kind face (half face, I was wearing a mask and a scrub cap) is Christian - my actions today reinforced that ridiculous stereotype that exists here. But, right before a procedure isn’t an appropriate time to take a stand for my own non-belief. I sucked it up and I feel awful about it, I feel dirty. Not sure why, I still suck it up and pray at family gatherings, I don’t post any humanist or atheist quotes on my social media so I’m not outed to my family. I guess it’s because I expect it there, and work is my safe place where I’m out to many of my coworkers and don’t typically lie about it when people ask.

What would you have done?

I would have done the same thing you did, and I would have felt about it the same way.

Thing is, she was obviously so disturbed that she needed it, and since prayer (and chanting and jogging etc etc) does release dopamine, so in a way it was a medical aid, like a pill.

So I see that side. But, yes, the entitlement is disturbing. I suppose she has no non-believers in her family and friend circle. And, yes, what a bothersome waste of time.
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#4

Praying with Patients
I could not have been so polite.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#5

Praying with Patients
I'm with Min, I'd've probably faced disciplinary action afterward, lost the job --- but if I'd had the wit and the opportunity I'd've said to that poor woman:

"Sorry, dear, it's far too dangerous in this hospital to pray.  There are too many patients in precarious states in this building and a prayer with too much power in it could inadvertently disrupt a condition by taking the Lord's attention away from it for just one second too long and we just cannot take that risk.  The Lord has placed you here in our care already, the best possible, any further prayer is not only unnecessary but dangerous.  You'll come out of here in excellent health."
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#6

Praying with Patients
By the way Nursey glad to see you in these threads again!  Sun
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#7

Praying with Patients
Be prepared. I've been there. (Hi Nursey !)
Once in a meeting with my dad (an MD) they all wanted to hold hands and pray, and dad said "Bucky needs to make a call".

The *tried and true* I use in this situation is "Excuse me, I just quick need to find the restroom before we start", and pull you hands behind you.
No one can fault that. It gets you out, and they can't be offended. I've used that more times than I can count. I remember the first and only time I got stuck "praying".
I don't do the pray.

It actually depends on the person and situation. If it's a demand, I recoil, especially if it's a patient I don't know.
Some patients I really don't care, and am happy to be there, *present* with them, and we've been talking to them for at least a few hours, maybe a few days ... they're just scared,
and if they put out their hand, I might take it as they just need a human touch. I'm fine with that. Fortunately we have chaplains who do the prayer stuff.

You won't feel imposed upon and dirty if you decide in the moment which path to follow at the time. It has to be your choice. Be prepared. Big Grin
I found I was mostly pissed at myself for being taken by surprise. It's a demand for personal intimacy they have no right to ask. Just say no.
I am the Lord thy Dog. Thou shalt have no other dogs before me.
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#8

Praying with Patients
If I did it, I would have pulled a muscle with the eye rolling.
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#9

Praying with Patients
(03-31-2021, 01:45 AM)Nursey Wrote: ...What would you have done?

Having been married to a triple-certificated nursing sister and theatre nurse for 15 years,
I may have a few ideas—right or wrong.  I've only responded to a couple of your comments.

Quote:I don’t appreciate being in a position where I have to participate to keep from having a complaint that could cost me my job for being intolerant of a patient’s religion.

I doubt very that you'd lose your job after more than reasonably, and politely, declining to hold
a patient's hands while they prayed.  I can't imagine that action being a part of your terms of
employment.  Conversely, no patient has the right to demand that of any medical staff.  Of course
complying with other religious practices—bathing, foodstuffs, personal prayer, clothing etc—is
required for all patients in order to accord with their particular religious beliefs.  But not prayer.

Quote:What am I supposed to do? Say, “I’m sorry, I don’t share the same beliefs but go ahead and pray” right before we knock her out so that I can be reported later?

Yes.  Exactly that.  And as I surmised above, I can't really see refusal as a sackable "offence".
No patient has the right to invade your personal space to this degree, particularly as you felt
so compromised by her request.

—I'd suggest that you enquire of the hospital's administration about this—before the chance of it
arising again in the future.

Hope this helps.      Sun
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#10

Praying with Patients
In the rare occasions when I wanted to keep the peace I used to play Weird Al songs in my head. "Amish Life" was a favorite given their predilections.
  [Image: attachment.php?aid=31] Dog  
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#11

Praying with Patients
No seriously, being summoned (as opposed to casually invited) into someone's prayer group IS just as bad as sexual harassment. It gives me the exact same skeevy feelings, but with a sexual harasser you can do something about it after the fact. With religious people, you just have to take it.

But for your work, the patient is obviously scared and you have to be polite and calming. If the patient tries to corner you, say that you're not sure what a prayer circle is and that you're going to ask your supervisor for advice. -That should at least get you out of the room so you can think up a more elegant reason to decline.

There was once upon a time that I'd really never heard of a prayer circle and watching people join hands and pray completely took me by surprise. I've since pulled the playing dumb card when faced with this situation on several occasions. Like, "Oh, a prayer circle? That's interesting... what is that?" and after they explain, I just say, "Well I'm not familiar with anything like that, but I'd like to watch it in action. Why don't you go ahead and get started so I can see for myself." When they're done, if they ask you what you thought of it, just say that you found it very supportive and loving and that you thought it was a nice sentiment. I've personally never been asked to join a circle after this kind of encounter, but if I was, I'd just explain that I'd feel more comfortable showing my care and support in another way.
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#12

Praying with Patients
(03-31-2021, 01:45 AM)Nursey Wrote: I am sick and tired of the presumption that a kind face (half face, I was wearing a mask and a scrub cap) is Christian 

OMG, I know! This drives me nuts! I've been accused of being Christian many times when I was out and about being kind to people, volunteering, or donating things to charity. Why is that their assumption?  Angry
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#13

Praying with Patients
It's the bubbles. People live in bubbles so much. If you are raised that way and continue to live that way, all the people around you tend to be that way, and you run around assuming everyone is. Europe and Australia and South Africa are not that way anymore, too many non believers to allow those bubbles to exist. But, it's strong in the US and in Islamic countries, too. 

I don't blame the individual as much as I blame the culture. Sadly, individuals make up the culture so it is they who have to change.

It is so important to expose children to "the other", to travel and read, and to have friends who don't look like you and don't think like you. 

As for someone ill in a hospital, I get the need for dopamine, how ever it is obtained. I also get it coming from the elderly. It's the young who matter and should be confronted. They are more open to change, and they are the future of change. 

We are lucky in life if we can grow old while the current crop of young continues to change and improve our cultures.
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#14

Praying with Patients
(03-31-2021, 01:45 AM)Nursey Wrote: Not sure if this is the right section, since it’s half rant, half looking for insight.

Today I had a patient praying, where she mumbled to herself for about 30 minutes in the procedure room while we were waiting on the doctor to arrive. You do you, I’m gonna finish setting up. The doctor walked in, asked if she had any questions, and walked out. Pretty standard - dude is busy with a high patient load and won’t be finished until at least 8 pm so he can start all over tomorrow at 6 am, that’s why you waited 30 minutes. She was PISSED the doctor didn’t stay to pray with her, he walked out before she got the chance to ask.

She tried to demand he come back in to pray, then she stuck her hands out and had me and the other nurse hold them while she prayed out loud. “Pray with me.” Umm, thanks for the vote of confidence in our ability to do our jobs with over 100 years of experience between the five of us. I’ve been less uncomfortable after being groped. I don’t appreciate being in a position where I have to participate to keep from having a complaint that could cost me my job for being intolerant of a patient’s religion. The narcissism, the audacity of it all. Honey, you had one of the best anesthesiologists at the hospital, one of the best CRNAs, the best GI doc in the region, two procedure nurses both with ICU and ED backgrounds. You weren’t in God’s hands, you were in competent, human hands. Human hands that do make human errors. And the doc and I did make a tiny, almost error - that wasn’t god, either. And then we fixed it with a clip. You woke up fine and you don’t and won’t have colorectal cancer (provided she continues to follow up on schedule). Why? Preventative healthcare and science, education, training, experience, genetics.

What am I supposed to do? Say, “I’m sorry, I don’t share the same beliefs but go ahead and pray” right before we knock her out so that I can be reported later? So her congregants can all spread half truths about the terrible nurses who refused to *gasp* pray with a poor sister before she could have a routine procedure where she might have DIED?! Christians are being oppressed in a hospital!!! Happy patients sue less - I was taught that in Nursing Fundamentals 14 years ago. But damn, I feel violated. At least I didn’t burst into flames. Had it not been for fear of losing my job, I wouldn’t have participated. It’s been YEARS. In the past few years while in the ICU I’ve said, “y’all go ahead and pray, I’m going to keep working” and the patients and their families have been cool with it. This was forced on me.

On the one hand, it was “only” two minutes of time blathering to an imaginary friend that made her feel better and brought her comfort, patient centered care and all that. But it was at *my* expense of two unbearably long minutes of extreme discomfort, delay of care for every other patient that day, and hours later it still bothers me. I am sick and tired of the presumption that a kind face (half face, I was wearing a mask and a scrub cap) is Christian - my actions today reinforced that ridiculous stereotype that exists here. But, right before a procedure isn’t an appropriate time to take a stand for my own non-belief. I sucked it up and I feel awful about it, I feel dirty. Not sure why, I still suck it up and pray at family gatherings, I don’t post any humanist or atheist quotes on my social media so I’m not outed to my family. I guess it’s because I expect it there, and work is my safe place where I’m out to many of my coworkers and don’t typically lie about it when people ask.

What would you have done?

Well, what you have done with the 2 minutes otherwise, I guess?   You probably could have used the 2 minutes to rest your mind for the next patient.  And I expect having to engage in the beliefs of another personm was not easy either.  On the other hand, if that was that person's last few minutes, I would lie like hell and fake it sincerely as possible.  There is no point in trying to explain reality to a dying person, and "being there" for one is part of our human community even when we don't agree about what is to come next.

I would tell a dying theist "yes, there is a heaven". I would tell a dying person "yes, you will return as an immortal butterfly" if that is what they want to imagine. I think there is a "truce" at death. It doesn't matter after that.
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