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I just think religious life is in a great amount of change right now and that’s a good thing. It can be scary but it’s a good thing. We can’t just be looking at the externals. Saying the numbers have shifted, ministries have shifted, people can’t be in the parishes or the place they once were those are simply externals. There was a point in time when we desperately needed schools and hospitals in the United States. Religious communities provided that, and they also helped parishes grow. I think we’re in a different moment now. There’s both dying and new life happening.
I believe that the biggest issue faced today especially in healthcare, is the lack of knowledge and understanding of other individuals’ faith. “Spiritual or compassionate care involves serving the whole person—the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.” (Puchalski, 2001). Today there are many studies based around religion in healthcare. Spiritual beliefs can help patients cope with disease and face death and it is important that healthcare professionals understand and respect those beliefs. It is important for healthcare professionals to understand the patients’ beliefs because these beliefs may be dynamic in the patient’s understanding of the disease. Aside from that, religious convictions may affect health care decision making. Not that I have not been sensitive and open to learning in the past, but this course has helped me better understand some of the many religions of individuals that I come into contact with every day. Ethical termination of pregnancy has increasingly become a hot topic throughout society. There are many people that don’t give much thought to the idea and then there are others who feel very strongly about it. There has been a situation where a new physician was talking to a woman of a different faith than he was and one that he was not all too familiar with. This young patient had recently been left by her husband who she later found out has AIDS. Because of this news, she decided to get tested. The physician gave her the news that her test came back positive and explained that they did diagnose her early. The patient kept repeating the God had been doing this to her and the physician was unable to connect with her because he did not know what to say or how to react. He took a step back and decided to just communicate with her on a different level, trying to find out more about her beliefs and better understand what she was saying. She then explained to him that as a teenager she was raped and rather than keeping the baby, she had an abortion. In her belief system that was very wrong. She viewed this positive test as a punishment for giving up her pregnancy. After their long conversation, there was a strong relationship that had formed between them and because of that, she continued to see this specific physician. She even told him that had he not addressed her belief issues during their first encounter, she would have never returned to see him or any other physician. In many patients’ lives, spiritual or religious beliefs may affect the decisions they make about their health and illness and the treatment choices they make. It is critical that us healthcare professionals listen to all aspects of our patients’ lives that can affect their decision making and their coping skills.
The topic that I chose to discuss is women’s rights movements. Women have a history of being restricted in ways such as being kept from having an education, owning land, having professional careers, traveling, marrying and divorcing as they wish, voting, and holding office (Molloy, 2013). Throughout history, the Catholic Church opposed women’s suffrage on its idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Claiming that if women were to engage in political life, their dignity would be impaired. The Church argued that in opposing women’s right to vote, it sought to protect and defend women. The Catholic Church has since come a long way. Today, the Catholic Church actively recruits Catholic women voters to lobby for the Church’s own political agenda. Other than women’s suffrage, the Catholic Church now supports women’s equal access to education, employment, and political participation worldwide. However, the Vatican still denies women the right to vote.
Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Puchalski, C. (2001). The role of spirituality in health care. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center), 14(4), 352-7.