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Diversity in Religion

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By dingo111
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As time goes on the United States continues to grow more and more diverse. It is becoming more diverse with different cultures and more diverse with the different religions that are practiced. Some certain religious practices and traditions tend to be complex and long, and it can be difficult for the healthcare provider to incorporate them in patient care. However, it is important for the nurse or other healthcare providers to encourage patients and their families to interpret their religious practices and traditions that may be pertinent to their hospital stay, which would affect personal needs, interaction with staff, and decisions about treatment. Just a few of the very diverse religions that are being seen more in the healthcare industry are: Hinduism, Catholicism, Muslim, Judaism, and Jehovah Witness. First, I will begin by discussing Hinduism and how their beliefs relate to healthcare. Hinduism, which originated in India, is the religion of choice for most of the people of India and Nepal. According to Edward C. Dimock, Jr. (2014), Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world with its elements stretching back for thousands of years. Unlike most religions, Hinduism has no set single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings. As described by Chaplin John Ehman (2007), people of the Hindu religion express strong beliefs on modesty. It is important for the healthcare provider to know this aspect of their culture especially if treatment includes caring for someone of the opposite sex. Hindus are also very strict vegetarians. For some patients, they will also often refuse to take prescribed medications if they are derived from an animal base. Another aspect of their diet that the healthcare provider needs to be aware of is the act of fasting. Fasting, withholding eating or drinking, is a common practice and the nurse must be aware that this is not an act of noncompliance but a part of their belief system and thought to be a means of healing. For many Hindu patients, there is a cultural norm to use the right hand for "clean" tasks like eating, often without utensils, and their left hand for "unclean" tasks like toileting. Medical and nursing staff should consider this right-left significance before hindering a patient's hand or arm movement in any way (Ehman, 2007). If an individual of this religion should pass, it is also very important for the healthcare provider to know how to handle the body in ordinance with the Hindu beliefs. The family may perform a series of pre-death rituals and once the person has passed may request there be someone constantly sitting with the body of the deceased. Hinduism beliefs consider death a crucial transition in the life process. Next, there is the Catholic religion and belief system. Catholicism can be traced back to the 1st and 5th centuries and has over 1.1 billion followers. Catholic beliefs do not differ drastically from those of the other major branches of Christianity. All three main branches hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the inspiration of the Bible. However, Catholic beliefs include the special authority of the pope. Being a healthcare provider it is important to know that sacraments and blessings by a Catholic priest are highly important, especially before surgery or whenever there is a perceived risk of death. The sacramental requests most often made by patients are for "Sacrament of the Sick" (what some Catholics may think of as "Last Rites"), Confession, and Holy Communion (Ehman, 2007). Baptism is also an important ritual within the Catholic religion. Baptism is simply sprinkling the forehead with water which symbolizes purification. All requests within the hospital are normally referred to the priest, however, in emergency situations if a priest cannot be found the healthcare provider may have to perform the ritual. Also, it can be important for members of the Catholic faith to keep religious objects with them, such as a rosary, at all times. The nurse or other HCP needs to be sympathetic to this potential request and if the patient, for instance, would go for surgery have the religious object placed in a sealed bag so it can be close to the patient. The third religion is Muslim. Muslim or Islam originated in Arabia over 1400 years ago. It is thought to be the 2nd largest religion in the world. Muslims base all of their beliefs from their version of the Bible which is known as the Qur’an and the Sunnah, who is thought to have been a prophet. Like Hinduism, Muslims are also very concerned with modesty. The healthcare professional needs to be especially aware that Muslim women tend to cover their body completely and they should allow time for the women to do so before entering the patient’s room. Female healthcare providers should also be aware that Muslim men may find care provided by the opposite sex to be extremely challenging and there should be no physical contact between members of the opposite sex. Even an act as simple as a handshake would be prohibited. If a member of the Muslim faith should need a bath during their hospital stay, it is important for the nurse to know that a sponge bath would not leave the patient feeling clean. The act of washing is generally associated with running water which often occurs before and after means and also before prayer. Muslim patients may take suffering with emotional reserve and may hesitate to express the need for pain management. Some may even refuse pain medication if they understand the experience of their pain to be spiritually enriching (Ehman, 2007). When dealing with death and dying of a Muslim patient, the nurse should know family members typically stay with the patient until they pass and after death the family will wash the patient’s face and position their bed toward Mecca. Burial is done as soon as possible with organ donation being a rarity. Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world today. Jewish history extends back through the ancient Israelite and Hebrew people to Abraham. Over 14 million are followers of the Jewish faith. Some Jewish patients may strictly observe a rule not to "work" on the Sabbath day which is from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday or on religious holidays. If so, this religious injunction against "work", which includes prohibitions against using certain tools or engaging in tasks such as those that initiate the flow of electricity, would be problematic to tasks like writing, flipping a light switch, or pushing buttons to call a nurse, adjust a motorized bed, or operate a PCA pump. Also, the tearing of paper may be considered "work," so toilet paper should be replaced with an opened box of individual sheets. Medical procedures should also not be scheduled during the Sabbath or religious holidays nor should hospital discharges be planned during such times without the consent of the patient (Ehman, 2007). Jewish patients typically request special type of diet which is known as Kosher. This diet is due to their religious laws which keeps them from eating certain food, foods that have not been blessed, or certain combinations of food, such as, eating dairy and meat together. When dealing with death of a patient of Judaism, burial happens quickly with no autopsy ever performed. Like the previous religions a family member will stay with the body while at the hospital to say prayers. The last religion and belief system to discuss is Jehovah’s Witness. Jehovah's Witnesses are members of a Christian-based religious movement. The denomination was founded in the USA towards the end of the 19th century and there are about 6.9 million active Witnesses in 235 countries in the world. Although Christian-based, the group believes that the traditional Christian Churches have deviated from the true teachings of the Bible, and do not work in full harmony with God. Members of the movement are probably best known for their door-to-door evangelical work, offering Bible literature and recruiting and converting people to the truth (BBC, 2009). According to Chaplin John Ehman (2007), the most defining tenant for Jehovah's Witnesses in health care is the strict prohibition against receiving blood be it by transfusion (even if the transfusion is the patient's stored blood), in medication containing or manufactured using blood products, or in food. The healthcare provider should know that organ donation and transplantation is allowed but it generally not done. With the Jehovah’s Witness faith, they do not believe the dead experience immediate afterlife. The nurse needs to be especially aware of this so no statements of, “They are in a better place” are made. Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to work exceptionally well with the healthcare staff and also tend to try all treatments as long as they do not interfere with religious beliefs. To conclude, religion is becoming more and more diverse in the United States. While Hinduism, Catholicism, Muslim, Judaism, and Jehovah Witness seem to have the same general concept of a higher power, there are many different elements that make up each of these different religions. It is important as healthcare providers to always ask the patient if there are any religious practices that they would like to incorporate in their plan of care. By incorporating their religion in their hospital stay, it makes the patient feel more comfortable and also shows that the nurse cares about the well-being of the patient and their culture. No matter what the religious preference may be it vital for the healthcare professional to always be respectful and never judgmental.

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