In healthcare, we come across all kinds of people. They all have different needs and wants. We become accustomed to the population that we see. Each of our hospitals has a majority. We know, in general, what the majority of our patients need in regards to spiritual and cultural care. Every once in a while though, we come across something new and different, something that falls outside of our everyday practice. When that happens, we have to adjust our way of thinking and learn new things in order to care for this patient and their family effectively and with great care. This paper will explore the differences between the Christian view of health care and healing as opposed to the Buddhist, Native American, and Hindu religions. Christian
Christians believe in God. They believe that the power of prayer can help heal. They turn to prayer and church when people are sick and injured, and rely on God to help heal. They turn to doctors and hospitals, but it is accompanied by faith and prayer. They pray for help, but do not know what help will be given or how it will be presented. They have faith that God has a plan and knows what he is doing. Acts 3:16 says “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see” (Bible,NIV). For Christians, as long as they believe in God and ask for his help, he will help. This is what we, in Western medicine, see most often. Our job and training is based around this basic premise that the Christian person who comes in requiring care will accept our Western medicine and will add prayer and family to the equation. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native American culture are very different. They have different views on the meaning of life, and the treatments and therapies that they accept as being useful. This paper will explore the differences that exist between Christianity and the three other religions specified. Hinduism
Hinduism is one of the oldest living religious traditions of the world. Hinduism has no one founder or teacher, and is a compilation of many different teachings and books. They believe in reincarnation, karma, moksha, dharma, and artha. Hindus believe that one death is just a rebirth into a new life while trying to reach Brahman. “From this belief follows a corollary belief in multiple lifetimes of existence in the past and the future, lifetimes in which the quality of one’s present life is determined by the quality of one’s past life as led in previous lifetimes (karma). It is thus possible to improve the quality of one’s life over several lives and attain a better rebirth, but the ultimate Hindu religious ideal aims at transcending the process of the cycle of rebirths itself. The successful attainment of this goal is called moksa” (Sharma, 2002). Christians, in relation, view death in two ways, death of the body and death of the soul. The body is of less importance, because it is the soul that has to meet with God on Judgment day and must prove its worthiness of being accepted into the gates of heaven. Hindus are extremely modest, and modesty is increased when the care provider is of the opposite gender. They generally eat a vegetarian diet, and will fast quite often. They are very respectful of medical personnel, but they are very hesitant to take drugs, and consent to surgery. It is very important that we explore other alternatives and educate, educate, educate. Buddhism
In contrast “Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as: (1) to lead a moral life, (2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and (3) to develop wisdom and understanding” (White, 1993). “The Buddhist approach to health and healing is its emphasis on spiritual practice. Buddhism asserts that spiritual practice makes it possible for an individual not only to see opportunity for practice in the face of adversity, including sickness and injury, but use the opportunity for personal transformation and transcendence” (Bhikshu, n.d.). They believe a quiet and peaceful atmosphere is most beneficial when a person is sick or dying.
This allows for rest, as well as time for prayer and meditation. Buddhists believe that it is good to continue living as long as possible, but do not believe that it should be done under all circumstances. Life support machines are not believed to be helpful if the person’s mind is no longer alert. Having an alert mind and not being in excessive pain are the two primary factors that affect a Buddhist decision regarding the appropriate time of death. They prefer that the person be in a state as close to natural as possible allowing for a natural, peaceful passing. Christians do not believe that taking care of the human body is the only way to live. The body is merely a vessel. They are most concerned with their soul and its well being. So when they get sick or are close to death, they hope that their soul is ready for God. Buddhists, like so many other cultures and religions, view a positive and caring attitude when interacting with the patient as their expectation. They expect to be treated with dignity and respect, like any other patient, and they want us to be genuinely kind and compassionate. Native Americans
Native Americans are a term used to describe hundreds of indigenous tribes of North America. Native American healing is a broad term to describe the healing beliefs and practices of these people. It includes religion, spirituality, herbal medicine, and rituals that they use to treat the people with medical and emotional conditions. “Traditional Native American healers aim to “make whole” by restoring well-being and harmonious relationships with the community and the spirit nature which is sometimes called God or the Great Mystery” (Cancer.org, 2008).They believe that everyone and everything is interconnected and in everything there is a spirit or essence. They believe that illness stems from spiritual problems.
They also believe that if the person is imbalanced, diseases are more likely to invade the body. Therefore, “their health practices aim to find and restore balance and wholeness in a person to restore one to a healthy and spiritually pure state” (Cancer.org, 2008). “Many Native Americans use their healers for spiritual reasons, such as to seek guidance, truth, balance, reassurance, and spiritual well-being while still using conventional medicine to deal with ‘white man’s illness’”(Cancer.org, 2008). They believe that the spirit is an inseparable element of healing. Native Americans, who practice this type of healing, may either stay out of the hospital, or be very reluctant to start any treatments without first trying to calm or appease the spirits. Christians, in contrast, are more likely to accept treatment and help from the medical community, but always keep in mind that the soul comes first. If it comes to their attention that they are dying, they really want to pray and prepare the soul for death. Implications for Care
As a nurse, the most important thing you can do, for any and all of your patients, is to find out how they view health and healing. What are their beliefs, and how will that change their plan of care? We need to find out who is involved or important in their healing process and how we can facilitate that process. Above all else, the nurse must be compassionate and caring, and understand that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. We must educate our selves and be open to their culture and faith so that we may provide the best possible care to our patients. Our patients deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. While Buddhist and Hindus will appreciate our kind and compassionate care, Native Americans may be a little more hesitant.
However, as with most things, it is all in the approach. It really is key to each and every person that you really are trying and conforming to their spiritual needs, otherwise, they will assume and think that you are being disrespectful and not helpful. As a nurse, we come in contact with so many different people, and throughout your career you will come across situations and people and faiths that will throw you for a loop. You will have to educate and research what it is about this patient that you are going to need in order to take the best possible care of the patient that you can. These 3 religions and faiths have many differences and some similarities. No two are exactly the same. Majority of our patients are outside of their realm, and they practice Christianity. We need to accommodate every single person that walks through our door, whether that means praying with them, gathering the appropriate clergy, allowing for family intervention, and providing for meditation and prayer. Conclusion
As a result of this research, it has become clear how little time is spent on the spiritual healing of patients. Western medicine is what is practiced. Medication dosages, surgical consults, and discharge teaching. We do not address the spiritual side of their health and well being enough. Why? Because that is easiest and that is what we know. We as nurses need to take the initiative and make sure that all of the information we collect during admission regarding spirituality and religion is put to use and that we ask what it is that we can do in order to help them incorporate their beliefs into their care.
Bhikshu, K. (n.d.). A Buddhist Approach to Patient Health Care. Retrieved January 25, 2013 from www.urbandharma.org/udharma8/health.html. Cancer.org. (2008). Native American Healing. Retrieved January 25, 2013 from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/native-american-healing. Sharma, A. (2002) The Hindu Tradition: Religious Beliefs and Healthcare Decisions. Park Ridge, Illinois: Park Ridge Center. White, B. (1993). A Basic Buddhism Guide: A Five Minute Guide. Retrieved January 25, 2013 from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm.