Nursing is a profession that requires a lot from those who work in it. A good nurse must be motivated, empathetic, kind, and compassionate. They must also possess a level of spiritual fortitude to remain productive in this line of work. In fact, many nurses rely on a faith system to lead them in their work and guide them to success. Spirituality and religion are almost necessities to surviving the difficulties that nursing presents. Atheism, then, is a belief system that is rare in the nursing world. Read on for more information about the role of religion in nursing and healthcare.
How Religion Helps
A belief in God or other higher power allows nurses to become better at their work. This spiritual support system provides a strong foundation to help nurses withstand the challenges and setbacks they will certainly face. There are certain elements of religion and spirituality that are particularly useful in helping nurses thrive in the industry, much more so than their atheistic counterparts. Here’s how religion helps.
Belief in a Higher Power
The belief in a higher power is what sets many people apart. Nurses benefit from this belief because it allows them a spiritual backup for when their own faculties fail. Challenging times will occur for everyone and atheists simply don’t have that assurance that there is a powerful being supporting them from behind the scenes. Belief in God is what allows many nurses to carry on in the face of everyday obstacles.
Belief in Life After Death
Those working in the medical field, especially nurses, are no strangers to pain, suffering, and death. It is a difficult thing to watch people you have cared for and cared about pass away. However, for a believing nurse, death is not the end but merely a transition to the next phase of eternal life. One thing that all major religions have in common is the belief that something happens after we die, whatever it may be. For Christians, there is Heaven. For Buddhists, there is reincarnation.
Whatever the spiritual belief system teaches, there is certainly more after death. Believing nurses, then, are much more able to cope with the tragedy of death by having that assurance that the patient is no longer in pain but is receiving their eternal reward for their life. In essence, spiritual belief can take away the sting of witnessing death. Without this assurance, nursing would be too hard to bear.
Every major religion has some sort of instruction on how to treat fellow human beings, and they generally agree that compassion and kindness are the best ways to go about it. Indeed, the Golden Rule of “do unto others” is reiterated in several different belief systems. While being compassionate is not exclusive to the religious, atheists certainly do not have the same good examples or written instruction on how one should act. Christians use Jesus Christ as an example of how to be loving to others, especially those that we do not understand. Mother Theresa is another wonderful example of how compassion can be shared with others. Other religions have even more examples in scripture and real life for how followers should treat others.
In nursing this is of the utmost importance. Having compassion for patients is essential for being a great nurse. Indeed, “compassionate care” is one of the very basic expectations of those that participate in the profession.
One thing that many nurses fail to do well in is self-care. Nursing is a demanding field that often leaves people drained, tired, and burned out. Because religious people often hold to certain moral standards, their level of self-care is much more productive. While non-believers may resort to alcohol, drugs, food, or other unhealthy addictions to help them cope, believers turn to God for support and commit to spiritual self-care as a way of managing stress and pressure. Attending church services, volunteering, working with youth, reading scripture, and praying for strength are all healthy activities that offer spiritual nurses the strength and self-care they need to handle their work demands.
Strength Through Community
There’s no denying that community can offer a huge support for anyone who is struggling. There are support groups for alcohol and drug addiction, weight loss, mental health – churches offer a built-in community of likeminded people who are bound to respect and support other members. While it is not impossible to find a supportive community outside of religion, many atheists struggle to find a group with whom they share goals, beliefs, and standards. It is this spiritual strength that is offered through religious community that helps keeps nurses going when they struggle with burnout or fatigue.
Atheists as a Rarity
While it’s not impossible to have atheists in the nursing community, it is rare. Religion, or even an informal belief system or spirituality, offers so much support and knowledge that nurses can use to benefit both themselves and their patients.