Does being religious or spiritual make you a better nurse?

You guys don’t personally KNOW me but if you did, I am as open minded as they come…(well, that is an exaggeration, vaccinate your kids, no excuses)

I’d love to sit down and hear your opinion, sincerely. I love learning new things, I love hearing different points of view. So when I bring up a controversial topic like this, I’m a bit apprehensive you all won’t feel the same.

I’d like you to give me the same respect I would offer you if we were in person and politely chime in because I think this is a really interesting discussion.


So first of all, my short and fast answer to this question is no. Being religious, being a Christian, being a spiritual person does not make you a better or worse nurse.

This was brought up at work the other day. One of the nurses I work with was never baptized, never went to church, and strongly believes in science. She is very sweet, extremely kind, and overall an excellent nurse.

So, I took a poll asking other nurses their thoughts and most everyone’s hard and fast answer was also no that it doesn’t make a difference in quality of care.

But then I flipped the question: Does it matter to the patient if their nurse is Muslim, Bouhdist, Catholic, Christian, Jewish etc?

For me, the answer is no. I don’t care either way of my nurses religious preference as long as they respect my religious preference.


Here is my long answer:

I am a Christian. I was raised attending a Lutheran church. The older I get, the more I feel like I am a Christian more than a Lutheran and I’d fit in better at a non-denominational Christian church.

I’m raising my children attending a Lutheran church whenever I’m brave enough to bring them. But we pray and Carver doesn’t really know or care who Santa Claus is because IT IS JESUS’S BIRTHDAY more than Santa is coming. He doesn’t know who the Easter bunny is because Jesus died and we are celebrating because HE IS RISEN!

My philosophy of why I am a nurse, my true belief is more than just a calling. I truly believe God works through me to care for people and to teach others to care for people.

When a patient dies too young or something horrible happens, I can lean on the notion that it is out of my control and is in God’s hands. It is a part of His plan. I may never know why that had to happen or why they had to die but I know that it is under God’s control.

I believe that my role on Earth is to care for God’s children the best I can. I believe I encounter certain patients to learn how to accept all walks of life. I believe I am learning every day to learn skills that will make me the best steward to care for others for when we cross paths further down the road.

I’ve had a pretty horrible year. My dad was diagnosed with extremely aggressive lung cancer and died 129 days after his diagnosis. I still believe that was God’s plan. I still believe that I did all I could for him. Can I offer my grieving mother the absolute answer as to why he died at 58 years young? No. But I lean on my faith and I take a breath and pray for acceptance and to strengthen my faith to believe the God has that reason in his plan.

So in short, religion MAKES me a nurse. This is why I do what I do. When a nurse tells me that they aren’t religious, I have so many questions for them!

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How do you sleep at night without the comfort of knowing that it wasn’t in your control?
  • How do you see what we see and be okay?
  • How do you cope?
  • How can you let things go?

My answer to all of these questions is my faith.

Is it easy? NO. I still have to process the horrible things I see everyday but I know in the end I’ll be okay and it will make me stronger and more knowledgeable to care for the next patient. I know it will make me a better nurse in the end. I know God is testing me and my faith. I know I will come out on the other side stronger and wiser.


But back to the original question: Does being religious make you a better nurse? No. It’s just the reason I am a nurse. But I’ll share with you how it makes me a better nurse as well.

I feel like I am more tolerant because when I’m frustrated or angry with someone I can pray for them. I remember we are all God’s children. I remember I was put here to care for them.

I feel like I offer religious preferences sooner than others. Such as: If my patient is dying, when there is nothing left for me to do, I find a priest or a pastor or a chaplain or SOMEONE of the patient’s religious preference to come and be with the patient, to pray with the family, to be there.

The quickest and most effective way to calm a room full of demented patients is to hand out Rosaries and say Hail Mary.

I have prayed with patients. I have bent over backwards to get them to church or communion. I’ve sang hymns for and attended my patient’s funerals. Spirituality is an effective non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention.

I think the better question is: How does your spirituality or lack thereof make you a good nurse?


So here are my questions for you all:

What spiritual interventions are you interested in if you were to be hospitalized?

What would it mean to you if your nurse was or was not religious?

Do you have certain beliefs centered around your ability to mentally, physically or emotionally heal?

How do you cope with the tragedies happening in our world today?

6 thoughts on “Does being religious or spiritual make you a better nurse?

  1. Susan the Farm Quilter says:

    What spiritual interventions are you interested in if you were to be hospitalized? I like it when my doctor, nurse, CNA will pray with and for me. Where two or more are gathered in My name, I will be there also really means something to me.

    What would it mean to you if your nurse was or was not religious? I would prefer my nurse to believe in God because prayer is powerful, even if it only brings peace and calm to a situation.

    Do you have certain beliefs centered around your ability to mentally, physically or emotionally heal? I know that God is in control and He can use every situation, no matter how horrible in my eyes, for good and to help others.

    How do you cope with the tragedies happening in our world today? Ah, the train wreak that feels as though everything is spinning out of control. I know that, on the whole, there is nothing I can do to change anything, but I can pray and I can be kind to everyone I come into contact with. Like the small pebble thrown into the pond, I hope my kindness will create a ripple that will reach much farther than I can see.

  2. Jared says:

    First of all, I love that you wrote this because I believe people should talk about religion (and other “taboo” topics) more. The only way we can learn to respect differences is by learning other perspectives and beliefs. So, here are my answers to the questions you posed:

    What spiritual interventions are you interested in if you were to be hospitalized?
    I’m not interested in any spiritual interventions because I am am athiest. However, I will not argue or say no to someone who may want to pray for me, out of respect for their beliefs.

    What would it mean to you if your nurse was or was not religious?
    It means nothing to me. I care that there is a competent and compassionate nurse helping me. If religion is what called them to be a nurse, that’s wonderful for them.

    Do you have certain beliefs centered around your ability to mentally, physically or emotionally heal?
    I don’t believe there is a master plan, or that things are meant to be. I believe most things can be explained through science, if we don’t know the answer at this moment in time, it’s not necessarily unknowable- we just don’t have the tools or theory to know yet.

    How do you cope with the tragedies happening in our world today?
    I think there are wonderful people, a lot of average people, and some terrible people out there. I believe people create our own suffering, and that it’s not controlled by a single source like a God or spiritual being. I think some things are just chaos by nature. I I subscribe to the theory that people started to form religions to explain what seems unexplainable, and to provide comfort in an uncertain world. Also there’s a lot of research out there (sorry I don’t have specific citations at the moment I’m remembering from Anthropology classes years ago) that people began religious rituals around the same time they began burying the dead. Also throughout history, organized religion served an important purpose of organizing large groups of people and acting as a government (for example medieval Europe was pretty well ruled by the Catholic church). This is a long winded way of me saying I believe religion has significant cultural value and provides a source of comfort and structure to people. It can provide reason in an unreasonable world. For whatever reason, I don’t require it to navigate my world. I’m ok with ambiguity and not knowing why some things happen. I just try to be the best person I can be and hope to lead a fulfilling life.

  3. Cindy says:

    I’m just going to say my opinions, hopefully they will answer your questions, but if not, sorry. I do not go to church, but did go until I was 12. It doesn’t matter to me what religion someone is or isn’t. As long as they treat others with respect and as they want to be treated. I usually don’t discuss how I feel about religion. I’m leery of people who talk a lot about their religion. I find out that they want something or are just out for themselves. I don’t include you and your family. You might mention that you went to church but you don’t preach to us.
    And the big thing right now, is I am a firm believer in separation of church and state. I think there are too many people claiming to be firm church goers just to get the church vote.

  4. Heidi S says:

    What spiritual interventions are you interested in if you were to be hospitalized? I have only been in religious hospitals having 4 babies. I greatly enjoy visiting with the nuns and praying with them. I was raised Catholic however I attended a Methodist after marriage. Now we are most comfortable in one of the local Cowboy Churches.

    What would it mean to you if your nurse was or was not religious? If I have to choose, I prefer religious. Ether way the nurses skills should be capable. I like the idea that we might share some basic beliefs. Higher power. Heaven.

    Do you have certain beliefs centered around your ability to mentally, physically or emotionally heal? Years ago a study was put out about strangers praying for hospitalized patients. The study showed the majority healed faster and had less pain. The scientists were pondering if people uniting in prayer created some kind of cosmic energy that helped aid the recovery process. They couldn’t verify the existence of God. Just that something was better when patients were lifted in prayer.

    How do you cope with the tragedies happening in our world today? I don’t feel I cope well with the big tragedies. I do not understand the evil in people. Their selfishness and lack of compassion. It makes me sad. I pray for people to find morals and a conscience that will help them be better people.

  5. Donna says:

    What spiritual interventions are you interested in if you were to be hospitalized?
    I would love if my doctor and nurses would pray with me and pray for me. I truly believe it helps in the healing, and if healing is not possible, gives the strength and peace needed.

    What would it mean to you if your nurse was or was not religious?
    It wouldn’t matter if he or she was religious or not as long as they knew what they were doing – sometimes nurses know more than the doctor – I’ve seen it happen. πŸ˜‰

    Do you have certain beliefs centered around your ability to mentally, physically or emotionally heal?
    It’s my belief that prayer helps in the healing.

    How do you cope with the tragedies happening in our world today?
    I admit I often ask God what it’s all about..sometimes I am angry, sometimes I cry. I pray about it all the time. But, I know that God has it all in His hands. I know that sounds rather flippant and I don’t mean to sound like that but I truly believe it.

    Thank for such a thoughtful post.

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