I’m usually pretty honest with myself. My wife gets upset at how honest I am with others. This post may get me in trouble.
I have been very judgement of Muslims in my life. Yes, I am sure I have been influenced by the medias portrayal of events during my 40 years. I have always been very accepting of people who are different, however, in my own mind I have never extended this courtesy to Muslims. I thought that I would be cold and judgmental towards Muslims in my nursing career.
As I read this weeks article on Muslims and Healthcare, I found that as I read, my initial thoughts of disrespect and disregard left an immediate bad taste in my mouth. I found that in my own mind I was crying out that I should treat them the way I would want to be treated. People are individuals. Muslims have a belief set like any other religion, there are those who would twist those beliefs to fit their views. This is not unique to Muslims alone. An individual is either good or bad because of who they are and the actions they take. No religion should be stereotyped and treated poorly just based on the name.
I was wrong for that in the past and have enjoyed the opportunity to understand the Muslim faith a little better.
This week we have been studying the Catholic Faith. I was raised by my mother in the Catholic faith and this week has brought back many memories. I am very grateful for the foundation of faith that my experience in the Catholic church gave me. I am also grateful for the ability to share these experiences with my own children and allow them to be a part of what I experienced as a child.
Going over some of these rituals and beliefs will help me in my nursing experience to remember how diverse patients can be. Catholic patients will be very concerned about baptizing their young children as well as administering last rights to their dying family. Regardless of my own views on these rituals they are of great importance to Catholic patients and should be respected as such.
As a paramedic I had many encounters with the homeless culture. While I don’t look at them all with the same stereotypes they had many commonalities to them. We were called out several times to incidents where some of the homeless were breaking into vacant homes for a safe place to sleep. In the winter we would transport several homeless to the hospital each shift for intoxication. This allowed them a warm place to sleep and a good meal. We spoke with many of these individuals and found that they had plenty of money each month for adequate housing but didn’t find it a priority. Some of these individuals were mentally ill but they were the minority. Regardless of our interactions with them they definitely appeared to have a strong culture among them with cultural bonds to one another and culture norms.
Looking back on my experiences with them I can say that each one was an individual with individual circumstances and views. While they shared commonalities with the other homeless it was a result of lessons learned on the streets and not a medical illness or disposition. Some of them we came to know and respect a lot for what they had faced in life. We even bought Christmas gifts and Thanksgiving dinners from year to year. It was a pleasure to be a part of some of their lives.
This week in class we researched several articles regarding the beliefs and activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prior to this week of study I thought that Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that only 144,000 people gained salvation. I learned this week that this is a matter of wording. From their own website they teach that billions will receive resurrection, they list the requirements for salvation and state that only 144,000 reach a Heavenly state where they actually live with Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. They state that this Heaven is a spirit realm. I also found it very interesting that through an interpretation of Revelations that they believe Jesus began ruling God’s kingdom in 1914.
As with other religions, I don’t understand enough about their specific beliefs to presume to know how to provide adequate and acceptable medical care to their members. I would approach these individuals with curiosity and be very direct in asking what is an appropriate level of care for them.
Hinduism is a very complex religion. There are so many avenues that a Hindu individual may focus on during their life’s journey. Yet, regardless of the path chosen, the choices are simple. Making good, moral choices will take the individual closer to fulfilling their life’s purpose and poor choices will give them the opportunity to come around again and find a better path. When we started our research into Hinduism, I had no idea what to expect. In the limited exposure I have had so far, I find it very interesting. As a nurse, having very limited exposure to Hindu individuals, I would approach them with a great deal of curiosity, seeking to understand them further.
We did some research this week on the Latter-Day Saint religion and culture. Sometimes we assume that the cultural norm in our lives is understood by everyone. I found it interesting what information was new to some individuals regarding the Latter-Day Saints. It was a reminder to never make assumptions regarding anything. Even though the Latter-Day Saints are the predominant religion in my area they are not entirely understood by everyone.
During the last week we have been discussing cultural diversity in general and specific to health care. We watched The Good Lie with Reese Witherspoon. Watching The Good Lie took me back to the time I spent in Toronto, Canada. We interacted with people from all over the world and experienced a wide range of cultures. Living in Utah for the last twenty years has washed away many of the lessons gained from my time in Toronto. As I watched The Good Lie I was reflecting on how Americans were portrayed interacting with these refugees from Sudan. It is very easy to get so caught up in our own lives that we don’t stop to interact with those we encounter as individuals. We tend to treat people as objects in our lives that need to be dealt with and not as individuals that we interact with. Less than 24 hours before these Sudanese refugees found themselves in Kansas City, they lived on the planes of Africa. During their lives they had encountered lions, civil war, murder and death. Now they were in the United States, dropped off in an apartment and expected to know what every item was and how to go about using it. It was a very accurate depiction of cultural in-sensitivity.
Over the next several months we will be focused on Hinduism. As I begin the process of understanding Hinduism, what can I learn that will demonstrate cultural sensitivity to any Hindu I may interact with? Is it a basic understanding of their philosophy? Some basic words or phrases that illustrate I have been exposed to Hinduism? Is it enough to just be open minded and wait for an interaction to occur? I believe that the more I learn about Hinduism prior to interacting with anyone, the more in depth my interactions will be.