Spiritual and religious beliefs along with healthcare practices are important to the lives of many patients. When a human being has an illness or is at the end of life, they turn to healthcare providers to diagnose and treat their illnesses. Since we are such a diverse country, there are a variety of different religions that stay in a hospital. A major world religion that one would come across in a hospital is Christianity.
Christianity is a religion based on the teachings and miracles of Jesus. There is only one God, and that God is a Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Christians believe in water baptism by immersion. This baptism authenticates one’s repentance. According to CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry), “Christianity is the only religion that teaches salvation by grace (Slick 2017).” This means that we are good in the eyes of God only when we have faith in what Christ did on the cross. Christianity is the most followed religion in the world, making up one third of all of the world religions combined. With that being said, it is more likely to care for a Christian patient in a hospital. Regardless of the divine figure a patient may follow, it is important to have a basic understanding of each religion in order to care for each patient in the most respectful manner.
Christianity prioritizes relationships with others just as much as it prioritizes the relationship with God. A similar statement can be found in the Bible, in the book of Matt, 25:40. It says, “Our helping someone in need is the same as helping the Lord Himself (Matt. 25:40 New International Version).”
A Christian’s preferences within healthcare and end of life care can be viewed from two different aspects. One is through the eyes of a Christian patient, and the other, a Christian healthcare provider. A Christian’s philosophy towards other people is the same throughout the entire religion, to love and support others regardless of who they are or how they act. Taking that into account, a Christian healthcare provider is encouraged to care for their patients to the highest extent. With a Christian going through the end of life experience themselves, much trust is put into the hands of their healthcare providers. This trust is a result of the faith they have in God.
In the Christian religion, it is taught that as long as one believes and trusts in God, they will go to heaven after death. Heaven is a place described as the final stop. Earth is viewed by Christians as a place that is diminutive in comparison to Heaven. The most loyal followers of Christ may go through death not only peaceful and calm, but also looking forward to what is next. There is typically a funeral burial service for the deceased that may take place in a church, private home, funeral home, or crematory. Before the service, there is a viewing that takes place where friends, family, coworkers, and many others can pay their respects to the deceased after being prepared by a mortician. According to an article on Funeralwise, in the respect for the deceased, a mortician will bathe and disinfect the body before the prefered service (Paskin et al. 2019). Usually, the now deceased individual will let a family member know which service they would prefer before their death.
In my own professional practice as a nurse, I will take into consideration the religion and beliefs of every patient. It is important to me that each patient is taken care of to the best of my ability. I believe that without taking a patient’s religion into account, accomplishing that is nearly impossible. If a person wants their time with me to be a celebration of life, I will do that to make the experience better. If it is a period of mourning encouraged by religion I will support that. I hope that when I am approaching the end of my days, people are respectful of my wishes. With that thought alone the following sentence can be supported: Caring is about the patient and what they want, not about me and what I want.
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