Health Care Provider and Faith Diversity
As human beings are mortal, health care is a key component of their lives. In the past people received medical care from herbalists, spiritualists or even magicians. However, with modernization, scientific medicine took center stage and doctors, nurses and community healthcare providers in dispensaries, health centers or hospitals treat people nowadays. Though these people have modernized their health practices, most of them still hold on to their religion. As religion dictates aspects of life and death, it provides guidelines on who and how should provide healthcare. Complying with the religious requirements of a patient is critical in determining the healing process of a patient and health care givers should strive to do so. The major religions such as Christianity, Islam and Hinduism have many believers and hence most of their requirements are met. In contrast, people who practice less common religions such as Sikhism, Buddhism or Native American spirituality that are likely to have their spiritual needs overlooked by their care givers. I discuss below the healing processes, requirements and beliefs of the abovementioned religions. I also discuss why their inclusion is important in the provision of healthcare for patients ascribing to those beliefs.
Each religion has its own set of beliefs. These beliefs determine the practices they partake in their day-to-day lives. Religious beliefs also affect the healing process. As far as healing is concerned, the practices and beliefs in the different religions can be different or similar. Whatever the case, healthcare workers should allow inclusion of these beliefs and practices in the treatment to allow the patients have peace of mind and strength of spirit to get through the illness.
Sikhism is one of the new religions in the world, as it has existed for about six hundred years. It originates from the Punjabi region in India. The Sikh’s believe in the existence of God. Their perspective on healing is that God is the eventual healer; they believe that he cures people through science and hence seek medical attention in hospitals (Anderson & McFarlane, 2004). They believe that God sends illnesses to people for one reason or another to fulfill His purposes but eventually He is caring and heals those afflicted with diseases. This belief is similar to the Christian belief in some way in that the Christians also believe in the existence of God and that God heals diseases. It differs in that for the Christians God is not a source of diseases. People fall ill because temptations and the devil’s work. Christians also believe that though God can use the medical practitioners to heal, He can also heal through miracles. For the Sikh’s there are several components critical for healing. The first is prayer; the Sikhs pray to ask for God’s help. They believe that through prayer they can achieve peace and unity of mind and body. Prayer for the Sikhs thus strengthens the unity of the body and the spirit, thereby cleansing the body. Cleansing therefore rids the body of the disease and hence brings about healing (Willocks, 2007).
They also believe in meditation; to a Sikh meditation is important as it facilitates healing. This occurs in that meditation works to increase the body’s immunity, giving it strength to wade off the disease. The Sikhs also believe in reading from their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, and playing holy hymns to the patient. This they believe will earn them forgiveness from Waheguru who is their god (Anderson & McFarlane, 2004). The forgiveness, they believe, will grant them peace of mind, unity, strengthen both their body and spirit and cleanse their wickedness. The above will result in healing. Their beliefs have some similarities to those of Christians, as Christians also pray to God to ask for forgiveness of sins. They also believe in the cleansing of the body and spirit. They differ in that Christians do not include hymns in the healing processes. To incorporate a Sikh’s religious practices in his or her health care provision, the health care workers should provide a practitioner of the same faith, a room with enough space and allow them time to pray and meditate in the hospitals without disturbance. The doctors, nurses and clinicians should not interrupt a Sikh while he is praying or meditating (Willocks, 2007). Sikhs love and appreciate their folk, and on provision of the desired compromise for their religion in health care protection they are bound to be courteous, believing that the medical practitioners are indeed focused on their full and speedy recovery and they will forever be grateful for this.
Native American Spirituality
Native Americans have their own set of beliefs. For them, diseases attack the body when there is a distortion of the balance that exists between the elements of the person that are the spirit, the body and the mind. To restore this balance, they believe in prayer and meditation. The above they believe, will reunite the elements, hence bringing back the balance and healing the disease. To achieve this goal, they invite the spiritual elders to pray for the sick, even those in hospitals. The above practice is similar to Christian in that Christians too believe in praying for the sick to receive healing. Christians also pray for each other and the church elders can visit a patient to pray for his or her healing. They differ in that Christians believe that healing is miraculous and from God, unlike the Native Americans who believe it is a restoration or natural order in the person. The perspective of the Native American on the healing process is that for healing to occur, the body, mind and soul should be aligned. If this is not so, they prevent the healing from taking place (Willocks, 2007). They mainly believe in prayer and meditation. They meditate to unite body, mind and spirit and pray to celebrate life and glorify nature. A healthcare worker can incorporate the spiritual needs of a Native American patient by allowing and giving ample time for the elders to pray for him or her. When this is done, the Native American is glad and knows the hospital staff was interested in and facilitated his or her recovery. Both Christians and Native Americans use prayer to communicate with deity and hence receive directions and guidelines for living.
The main difference between Buddhism and the other religions including Christianity is that Buddhists do not believe in the existence of a god or any other deity. They believe that individuals are the masters of their own body and hence destiny. As far as healing is concerned, the Buddhists believe that meditation leads to stability and therefore healing. They meditate together with close family and friends in private (Anderson & McFarlane, 2004). They differ from Christians in the belief of the existence of God, as Christians believe in the existence of God. They agree on the fact that people have free will and choice. On the healing perspective, Buddhists are more into preventive healthcare services as opposed to curative. They believe that the body requires protection from impurities of the world. They follow strict regimen abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes and other harmful substances. They believe that healing occurs internally without external influence because of proper discipline of the body through hardships. An aspect of Christianity that is not seen in other religions is the use of anointing oil to cleanse and sanctify the body as a method of healing. A Buddhist’s needs of incorporation in healthcare provision involves allowing him to meditate without interruptions. They also follow a strict diet regimen such as being vegetarian. The hospitals should provide them with vegan food to enable them to have a peace of mind. On incorporation, the Buddhists would appreciate the honor and be forever grateful to the healthcare service provider (Willocks, 2007).
Health care provision and religious practices go hand in hand in facilitating the healing of a person. The medical services deal with the physical aspects, while religion takes care of the spiritual needs. A patient would find it hard to survive without mental and spiritual strength and wellbeing. This is because they need stamina to withhold the medication. Patients also attain peace of mind when they follow the medication and hence recover quickly. Health care workers should therefore allow their patients to participate in their religious practices without hindrances and interference, as long as they are not jeopardizing their lives and those of people around them. This will make healthcare services more humane and more fulfilling for the patients, especially those subscribing to less common religions.
Anderson, E., & McFarlane, J. (2004). Community as partner: Theory and practice in nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Willocks, T. (2007). The religion. New York: Sarah Crichton Books.