Lv 5

Part II: What if while answering a Christian who is asking about my belief in Jesus . . .?

. . . I kindly say, "I would prefer not to discuss religion at work" and then they get huffy, say a few more things about how Jesus saves lives telling me I should believe, then cross their arms and give me curt answers with glaring eye contact? In other words, the patient was once friendly and my job as a nurse was going well but because I responded in a way that didn't encourage them to witness or continue to talk about Jesus (or religion in general).

What do you do about situations like THIS? I like when things are going friendly and I don't like for patients to be upset; I feel that it affects their entire hospital experience.

Any thoughts or other recommendations?

Please no witnessing comments to this answer (I got some with Part I of this question). I'm genuinely looking for someone to answer the question, not focus on a personal agenda to convert and/or educate me. : )

Update 2:

@ St Smug -- I think you're making an assumption that I'm not polite, am not professional and am condescending. You obviously are unfamiliar with the NURSING role, aren't you? Part of my job is to listen to patients, but also to guide their CARE.

I think you should take a look at Hatching's answer for some insight. : )

22 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    These two are great questions. I agree with the people in part I who suggest telling them, "I'm sorry, but I don't discuss religion at work."

    I wouldn't cite hospital policy unless there is one, because you might get in trouble for lying if there isn't.

    A lot of people will leave it at that. But, for part II, what if they don't?

    You can suggest to them that if they feel a strong need to discuss their religion, you can refer them to the hospital chaplain. That's what he/she is for.

    If they push further, you can add, "I'm sorry. I need to focus my attention on this chart/blood draw/whatever."



    The problem, however, is that the pushy people who "witness" this way don't really do it to help others. They're doing it to prop up a weak ego.

    Forcing you to listen against your will (you're held captive while you're with them and can't simply walk away) isn't about religion. It's about being in control. That control isn't necessarily about converting you. It's simply about forcing you to listen or hooking you into a debate.

    Of course, they won't see this (and neither will some other people on this forum who are like that). Their egos convince them that what they're doing is what they're supposed to be doing, and they remain unconcerned about the wants or needs of others.

    But I think the most important thing you can do is remember that none of this is about you, and you can't genuinely make their hospital experience better if their primary goal is to witness rather than to received medical care.

    I don't agree with the person here who said it's your job to let them say or do anything, because they're the patient. Witnessing to someone is not the same as talking about your grandchildren. Trying to force your views on someone is rude in any setting—if it weren't, there would be no reason why you couldn't force pantheism on this patient in return.

    Your experience at the hospital matters, too. What if the patient were a man who kept grabbing your @ss. Would you just let him go ahead and do that, because hey, it's HIS experience, and he should get to do whatever he wants? Let's let him raid the morphine while we're at it!

    No. There are limits to what patients may or may not do. If a patient became rude or unruly along other lines, you would have recourse through the hospital—I doubt they would ask you to "just let them do it—it makes their experience better."

    So I would actually check into your hospital policy, because there may be rules that exist to protect you, too—from being subjected to rude patients, and this qualifies. It's not your job to be subjected to any kind of hostility, and once you've expressed that you're not interested, it's hostile for someone to force you to continue. No means no.

    p.s. Discussing religion (or anything) is not the same thing as forcing another person to listen to you speak. A discussion is voluntary—you can opt out.

  • 1 decade ago

    It must be difficult to do your job when your patient is being unreasonable. The best I can suggest is to focus on doing your job and keep it strictly professional. You don't have to form a rappoire with every patient and this one pretty much closed the door by getting an attitude when she didn't like the answer you gave. That's her issue, not yours. Again, just be professional and keep it work related. Hope this helps and please try not to take it personally or effect your self-confidence. Good luck!

    Edit: Perusing the comments after I posted, you are there not to put another persons needs before your own but merely to do your job: respond when they hit the nurse button, give them meds on time, check blood pressure, etc etc. You're not there to be anyone's friend or spiritual advisor. Nurses are generally too busy for that anyway, aren't you? It would be nice if you could form a personal and healing connection with every patient but you're only a nurse, not God. Again, just do your job and let her friends and family be there for the religious con-vo.

  • 1 decade ago

    Between Part 1 and Part 2, you have received a number of good answers. In particular, review Red and Jon M on Part 1, and Hatching on Part 2.

    This is what I think I might do:

    Go to your site administrator and let them know that from time to time you are getting patients who ask you the sort of question you got, and how uncomfortable the question makes you. Find out if there is a policy, and if not, find out if it is ok for you to say there is.

    The next time someone asks you if you believe in God, say (apologetically), "Ma'am (or Sir), I would soooo love to talk about this with you about this, but if I do, I could lose my job." Then without blinking an eye, say, "OK, I need you to relax your arm for me" and proceed with a long stream of Nursing directions--"relax...let me check your other arm for a better vein, ok now, just sit up and look the other way.." you get the drift!

  • 1 decade ago

    I'm a little confused. So you're a nurse, and your patient asks you if you believe in Jesus, you answered that you didn't like to discuss religion at work? That's how I understand it, so I'm sorry if I say something incorrect. =P

    Personally, I don't think you were in fault. It's important for a professional, especially a nurse or doctor, to remain open-minded and not show bias towards one religion or another; in your position, I would have said the same thing. In my opinion, it wasn't right for her to get angry about it, because you never said that you didn't believe in Jesus.

    Some people are just like that, you really can't do anything to change it. I would suggest just being polite and professional with them when you're working with them, and not let it bother you. I know it's hard, especially in something so personal as a medical field, but what else can you do? Don't beat yourself up over something that wasn't (I believe) your fault.

    In any case, good luck, and I'm sorry that happened to you. :(

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  • Wren
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I read part one of your question, but didn't think I had a good answer, so I only stared it. But I just thought of something that might help you. You said, in your first question, that you believed in God much like Einstein did. So technically you believe in God.

    If I were you, when asked if I "believe in Jesus/God" I would answer with "Yes, I believe in God". Its not a lie. This should satisfy the patient enough that you can now steer the question to "safer ground" without upsetting them. They may ask something about what church you attend, or something similar, you can answer that your work keeps you busy, and you do not regularly attend church. This opens the door for you to start talking about your work and the hospital and away from religion.

    I dont know if it would work or not..but its what I would try if I were you.

    Source(s): your friendly neighborhood pagan
  • 1 decade ago

    I'm absolutely sure that you are kind and polite. ((kittehkat))

    But you are a nurse. I think a much better answer is "Now, Mr. Hawkins, I am much more concerned about your health. (big smile) Now, how are you feeling today? Tell me what I can do for you."

    "I would prefer not to discuss religion at work" is personal. And it will be taken personally.

    "I am only concerned at the moment with your health" is professional - understandable and non-debatable.

    And in the end, you can bet that's what they want (and need) the most.

  • Greta
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    i agree with most of the other answers in part. Ask a question, don't write a book. Ask questions, not tell us your answers. Your "Book" was so long it gave me a headache. But I will reply to some of your questions. 1. God is able to be both inside and out side of time, thus he can be anywhere and everywhere at anytime in any Form. 2. Philippians 2 :7 tells us that God emptied himself of his Godness and became like man "taking the form of a slave. being born in Human Likeness. And being found in human form." Thus as God is able to be in and out of time at the same time is how he could come as Jesus for 30 odd years and yet still be God outside of time. 3. While this may sound as arrogant as your claim of Islam being superior to Christianity, but I can only say that as a Christian I have found God through Christ Jesus and believe that as the Bible promised, I need no more. Certainly not from someone who came some 600 years later with an impure mixture of both Judaism and Christianity. 4. As hinted by someone else in the answers column, you seem to have gotten your thoughts from someone else. So I suggest the you read the whole bible, and not just selected verses, for yourself and make up your own mind and come up with your own questions.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think you gave the correct response. Another possibility is "I prefer to keep my religious beliefs between me and God, but thank you for asking."

    The problem here isn't religion. The problem here is the patient is self-absorbed and demanding, and she got pissed off when she didn't get exactly what she wanted. The topic just happens to be religion. I'm sure you get these types periodically as a nurse. ;)

    You didn't do anything wrong. Your patients do not have a right to your intimate personal life. You wouldn't even consider criticizing yourself if you brushed off questions about your sex life, yes?

  • 1 decade ago

    Kitteh, when you mention Religion specifically, as in "I do not discuss Religion at work", you gave the patient the information that they were seeking. that being, that you do not share their religious views. Rather, you should just say, "It is not ethical or appropriate for me to discuss my private life with my patients." and leave it at that. I wold use that response if asked what my political opinions were, my social opinions, my sports opinions, my religious opinions and my personal status (are you single, married, have kids, etc.). Now, if THEY volunteer their own personal information, then I would just acknowledge their comments and continue to go about my work with no information forthcoming about myself. When I was teaching, that was MY personal policy and it has never, not even once come back to bite me later on. The sesame principle should apply ina health care situation as well.

    Brightest Blessings,

    Raji the Green Witch

  • 1 decade ago

    I think you said the best thing possible. You cannot please everyone. Some people are so obstinate that it is impossible to please them without saying "you've converted me on the spot!"

    I understand it makes the job harder, but some patients are just difficult. There is no going around it.


    St. Mugg,

    Why are you automatically blaming the nurse? If someone doesn't kiss your religion's @$$, it's their fault? The believer who pushes the question and acts horribly has nothing to do with it?

    When I go to the doctor's or the hospital I don't interrogate everyone's religion. If it did come up, I wouldn't expect everyone to agree me. Moreso, I wouldn't get all pissy if they did disagree.

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