pdxhopeful

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It can be a very sticky situation. I haven't done rotations yet, but I have had a lot of patient interaction as a volunteer, and my usual response was to just not discuss my beliefs or lack thereof and assure them of my respect for their beliefs by confirming they'd been asked if they wanted their priest/rabbi/guru/whoever contacted, respecting any religius dietary restrictions, and so on.
 

surftheiop

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If your not religious, then who cares if you lie to your patient about your beliefs? ;)

jokes aside, Im sure the textbook answer would be to redirect the conversation from focusing on yourself, but Im sure thats obviously easier said than done.
 

BuddyTheElf

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I feel like this is the same as a patient asking you a question about your personal life. This is none of their concern... but of course you can't tell them that :rolleyes:
I used to work at a nursing home for nuns a few years ago (note: I am very non-religious). At least once a day a Sister would ask me about my religion. I would always just step around it by saying "I grew up Methodist" or something like that. It's not a lie and it makes them feel better to know you're not the anti-christ. :laugh:
It's a sticky situation because I feel so strongly about my views, but it's only going to hurt your relationship with the patient if you tell them you feel differently about such a 'big' topic.
 
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The answer certainly is to re-direct. Hopefully you can steer the conversation away from yourself in time to avoid a direct question. I too am not religious, but still after many patient encounters have never needed to point blank tell this to a patient. A discussion of your own religious beliefs, like your political beliefs, has no part in the patient encounter.

A comment in response to a question like this should be along the lines of, 'I think its great you find so much peace/support from your spirituality' or 'I think we all find comfort in the spiritual part of our lives,' depending on how strongly you feel about atheism vs some other religious practice and depending on how direct your patient's question is. Your goal is a noncommittal/redirecting statement.
 
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I have to think that sidestepping is the humane thing to do for both sides so long as it's not a detriment to your character. Deflect or satisfy the early questions to stifle the deeper questions that would make things uncomfortable, perhaps a partial truth. Otherwise, if they're persistant and it's inevitable, and you've tried to be considerate, stick to your guns. No one can fault you for honesty and if they do, well, then the question falls on them and their rapport.
 
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Thanks a lot for the responses. I guess I hadn't really thought about developing good ways to deflect, but it seems like the way to go if I can learn how to pull it off. I guess the key thing would be to prevent the conversation from going in that direction, but it's pretty hard when it's something like, "I hurt my knee back in 2003, but thanks to my faith, I recovered. Do you know about this faith, and have you accepted it?"

How do you deflect in that situation? I feel like any response other than "yes" immediately puts me in a more negative light, which is something I'd like to learn how to avoid. I think the situation would be the same whether you said "no" or "I think spirituality is pretty important. Tell me more about your knee replacement." The patient would know that you're purposely avoiding the question, and in my experience, they have been pretty relentless in asking. I do try to put off talking about my own beliefs or preferences as much as possible, but like I said, it seems almost unavoidable at this point in my training.

I'm in my second year, but we do get a lot of patient exposure and are allowed to spend more time with patients than perhaps in third year. I always let patients lead the history (as opposed to interrogating), and it's what I've been taught but maybe that's the problem? I haven't developed the skill to take control of the conversation when it deviates or goes off on a tangent. Anyway, I think I have had someone tell me about their beliefs every single time I've been in the hospital, so I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of practice in dealing with these situations. I appreciate the responses.
 

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I guess the key thing would be to prevent the conversation from going in that direction, but it's pretty hard when it's something like, "I hurt my knee back in 2003, but thanks to my faith, I recovered. Do you know about this faith, and have you accepted it?"
I would ask, "Then why did you even show up in clinic today?"
 

MalachiConstant

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I too live in a disturbingly religious area of the country and deal with this stuff every day. It's not just patients either. 6 rotations into third year and I've only worked with one physician who wasn't pretty vocal about having fundamentalist christian, young earth creationist, evolution denying beliefs. No way to prove it, but I'm pretty sure that preceptors figuring out I wasn't on the same page when I'd deflect their religious questions has negatively impacted at least a couple of evaluations.

Once, after a perfectly pleasant 20 minute conversation with a patient, as we're wrapping things up, she asks bluntly: "so, where do you go to church?" That's kind of hard to deflect. I went for the honesty route and just said I didn't. She then made a disgusted face and just walked away.

Not a religious issue, but a similar situation...On my outpatient psych rotation last month, the doc I was with is a big time gun nut. Keep in mind, this is a couple of weeks after the Sandy Hook shooting, and in at least 3 or 4 sessions a day, completely unprompted by the patient, he launches into these pro-gun, anti Obama diatribes with "facts" that are either totally twisted or completely made up. During one session he does this, and the son of the patient says: "you're preaching to the choir doc, I think everyone here agrees with what you're saying," then he looks over at me, apparently subconsciously shaking my head no, and says: "RIGHT???!?! !" then gets all bent out of shape, starts breathing really heavy, and storms out after the session was over.

I guess the point is, deflect and redirect when you can, but some people are just gonna press the issue and if they have a big problem, screw 'em.
 
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I too live in a disturbingly religious area of the country and deal with this stuff every day. It's not just patients either. 6 rotations into third year and I've only worked with one physician who wasn't pretty vocal about having fundamentalist christian, young earth creationist, evolution denying beliefs. No way to prove it, but I'm pretty sure that preceptors figuring out I wasn't on the same page when I'd deflect their religious questions has negatively impacted at least a couple of evaluations.

Once, after a perfectly pleasant 20 minute conversation with a patient, as we're wrapping things up, she asks bluntly: "so, where do you go to church?" That's kind of hard to deflect. I went for the honesty route and just said I didn't. She then made a disgusted face and just walked away.

Not a religious issue, but a similar situation...On my outpatient psych rotation last month, the doc I was with is a big time gun nut. Keep in mind, this is a couple of weeks after the Sandy Hook shooting, and in at least 3 or 4 sessions a day, completely unprompted by the patient, he launches into these pro-gun, anti Obama diatribes with "facts" that are either totally twisted or completely made up. During one session he does this, and the son of the patient says: "you're preaching to the choir doc, I think everyone here agrees with what you're saying," then he looks over at me, apparently subconsciously shaking my head no, and says: "RIGHT???!?! !" then gets all bent out of shape, starts breathing really heavy, and storms out after the session was over.

I guess the point is, deflect and redirect when you can, but some people are just gonna press the issue and if they have a big problem, screw 'em.
This is a really big fear of mine, and I'm sorry you're going through that. I'm likely going to be in the same position next year. I've already had lecturers that insert bible verses in their lectures or mention that a holy being created these organs, etc. And yes, the first time I ran into this situation, the lady asked me, "So what church do you go to?" after having preached to me for over 10 minutes. My preceptor is religious, but I think he gets the idea that I am not and he's a hell of a guy. I might discuss this with him later.

In an ideal world, being a dissenter would have no bearing on your professional career, but third year clerkship grades aren't exactly based on objectivity - so I've heard. I'm thinking about going to one of the administrators that I know pretty well and discussing this with them, too, especially in the context of preceptors and how to handle it in third year. We have a handful of non-religious people in our class, but I would say the overwhelming majority believes in the same god. There's even a prayer group before every test, for Christ's sake. The culture is insane where I'm at and literally inescapable given the amount of time we have to spend together in the classroom or in clinic.

I was religious for the majority of my life so I'm more than capable of blending in or - let's be honest - lying, but I would be sacrificing... my pride? Myself? All that is good and moral? I don't know. FWIW, all of my best friends are very religious, and I respect them all the same. But they know me and love me and do not directly influence my professional future. I don't know. Does UWorld cover this? ;)
 
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"I hurt my knee back in 2003, but thanks to my faith, I recovered. Do you know about this faith, and have you accepted it?"
Your patient is being inappropriate here, though they probably don't realize it and mean well. I'd be straight forward and if they are persistent again simply go with the whole "I'm glad you find comfort in your faith, but I'm afraid I don't discuss my religious beliefs at work." And then RAPIDLY move the conversation elsewhere. They should get the hint.

If they persist in wanting to discuss religion rather than their medical care, you need to develop the skills to redirect without offending. I.e. 'We have limited time, I want to be sure we discuss your high blood pressure,' or other similar lines. This will be a common problem with a whole range of topics, not just religion.
 
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Wordead

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This is a really big fear of mine, and I'm sorry you're going through that. I'm likely going to be in the same position next year. I've already had lecturers that insert bible verses in their lectures or mention that a holy being created these organs, etc. And yes, the first time I ran into this situation, the lady asked me, "So what church do you go to?" after having preached to me for over 10 minutes. My preceptor is religious, but I think he gets the idea that I am not and he's a hell of a guy. I might discuss this with him later.

In an ideal world, being a dissenter would have no bearing on your professional career, but third year clerkship grades aren't exactly based on objectivity - so I've heard. I'm thinking about going to one of the administrators that I know pretty well and discussing this with them, too, especially in the context of preceptors and how to handle it in third year. We have a handful of non-religious people in our class, but I would say the overwhelming majority believes in the same god. There's even a prayer group before every test, for Christ's sake. The culture is insane where I'm at and literally inescapable given the amount of time we have to spend together in the classroom or in clinic.

I was religious for the majority of my life so I'm more than capable of blending in or - let's be honest - lying, but I would be sacrificing... my pride? Myself? All that is good and moral? I don't know. FWIW, all of my best friends are very religious, and I respect them all the same. But they know me and love me and do not directly influence my professional future. I don't know. Does UWorld cover this? ;)
Wow where do you guys go to school?
 

Akali

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Man, I thought my school was bad but no one has gone anywhere near as far as putting a Bible verse into a power point lol

I imagine you're in the South though.
 

MilkmanAl

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I think you guys were just unlucky. I went to school in Arkansas, where the locals bible beat with the best of them. While the patients (and doctors and nurses and everyone else...*sigh*) think along the lines of what you're describing, they generally don't directly try to involve you in their beliefs. I'm a long-standing atheist, but I never had any issues navigating people's faith.
 

drkennyj

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How about this possible solution."I am sorry but I am not allowed to discuss religous or political matters with patients at the hospital." followed by something like. Tell me more about the problem your having.
 
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Man, I thought my school was bad but no one has gone anywhere near as far as putting a Bible verse into a power point lol

I imagine you're in the South though.
I looked back through my old powerpoints, and I still have them - but I'll most likely out myself if I post screenshots here. I know my classmates follow SDN. It was even worse than I remembered, as the verses were not about morality or "life" but specifically about believing in that god. I have anonymously complained about the lack of professionalism but not directly to the administration; it has only happened with one lecturer. The other lecturers just tend to make comments while teaching which don't bother me as much. Like I said, it's very much a cultural/regional thing and that I can understand, but putting these things into a powerpoint was pushing it, IMO. And I don't mean to make it seem like all of our lecturers do this. The majority of them keep it pretty professional.

I think you guys were just unlucky. I went to school in Arkansas, where the locals bible beat with the best of them. While the patients (and doctors and nurses and everyone else...*sigh*) think along the lines of what you're describing, they generally don't directly try to involve you in their beliefs. I'm a long-standing atheist, but I never had any issues navigating people's faith.
I thought it was bad luck at first, but it's happened enough times and I can only imagine it being worse in third year. I will say that a facet of Christianity is spreading the word of the Lord to everyone, especially to non-believers, in hopes of "saving" them. I know because I used to be a believer for a very long time. If religion is supposed to come before everything else in life, then there are no boundaries really, and this has been my experience with patients thus far. I've had patients ask me to bow my head and pray with them in the exam room. That's pretty direct to me. There is no being "inappropriate" or "unprofessional" when it comes to talking about God. Not here, anyway.

How about this possible solution."I am sorry but I am not allowed to discuss religous or political matters with patients at the hospital." followed by something like. Tell me more about the problem your having.
That would probably work except for the fact that almost all of the nurses and doctors in the hospital openly discuss their religion with the patients in front of me. *edit: Sorry, it's getting late, and I'm getting snappy.
 
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Your patient is being inappropriate here, though they probably don't realize it and mean well. I'd be straight forward and if they are persistent again simply go with the whole "I'm glad you find comfort in your faith, but I'm afraid I don't discuss my religious beliefs at work." And then RAPIDLY move the conversation elsewhere. They should get the hint.

If they persist in wanting to discuss religion rather than their medical care, you need to develop the skills to redirect without offending. I.e. 'We have limited time, I want to be sure we discuss your high blood pressure,' or other similar lines. This will be a common problem with a whole range of topics, not just religion.
Yeah, I agree that it does go further than religion. I appreciate your advice, and I know this is eventually what I'll have to learn how to do if I want to obtain a history efficiently. Thanks again.
 

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I go to school in a pretty conservative region, and to put it simply, I see a lot of patients that are very eager to share their beliefs. The problem is that I try to be very honest with patients, and they tend to find out that I am not very religious. As soon as they start talking about their beliefs, I feel that the question "Are you also a believer?" becomes unavoidable. The problem is this, and it never fails: I feel that there is a very perceivable shift in the patient encounter soon after, and either they offer to pray for me or they close off and don't appear as enthusiastic to talk to me or provide me any more relevant history unless I specifically ask.

My question is: is it considered unethical to perhaps exaggerate my religious views in order to establish a better rapport with a patient? I have tried to be completely honest with patients, and it hasn't been too bad but I feel maybe this is a non-issue and that the potential to have patients trust you more supersedes the need for you to be completely honest about something as trivial [to medicine] as religion.
If you go to a liberal school, they yell at you if you have conservative or religious views. I'm 1) African American and 2) a Woman, so I don't get bothered, but the few conservative white kids I saw in liberal colleges always got harassed.

We don't, "tolerate" well, do we?
 

Scarlet Woman

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I have to think that sidestepping is the humane thing to do for both sides so long as it's not a detriment to your character. Deflect or satisfy the early questions to stifle the deeper questions that would make things uncomfortable, perhaps a partial truth. Otherwise, if they're persistant and it's inevitable, and you've tried to be considerate, stick to your guns. No one can fault you for honesty and if they do, well, then the question falls on them and their rapport.
I wish more professors acted like this with their political views.
 
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This is a really big fear of mine, and I'm sorry you're going through that. I'm likely going to be in the same position next year. I've already had lecturers that insert bible verses in their lectures or mention that a holy being created these organs, etc. And yes, the first time I ran into this situation, the lady asked me, "So what church do you go to?" after having preached to me for over 10 minutes. My preceptor is religious, but I think he gets the idea that I am not and he's a hell of a guy. I might discuss this with him later.

In an ideal world, being a dissenter would have no bearing on your professional career, but third year clerkship grades aren't exactly based on objectivity - so I've heard. I'm thinking about going to one of the administrators that I know pretty well and discussing this with them, too, especially in the context of preceptors and how to handle it in third year. We have a handful of non-religious people in our class, but I would say the overwhelming majority believes in the same god. There's even a prayer group before every test, for Christ's sake. The culture is insane where I'm at and literally inescapable given the amount of time we have to spend together in the classroom or in clinic.

I was religious for the majority of my life so I'm more than capable of blending in or - let's be honest - lying, but I would be sacrificing... my pride? Myself? All that is good and moral? I don't know. FWIW, all of my best friends are very religious, and I respect them all the same. But they know me and love me and do not directly influence my professional future. I don't know. Does UWorld cover this? ;)
lol
 

NickNaylor

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This is a really big fear of mine, and I'm sorry you're going through that. I'm likely going to be in the same position next year. I've already had lecturers that insert bible verses in their lectures or mention that a holy being created these organs, etc. And yes, the first time I ran into this situation, the lady asked me, "So what church do you go to?" after having preached to me for over 10 minutes. My preceptor is religious, but I think he gets the idea that I am not and he's a hell of a guy. I might discuss this with him later.

In an ideal world, being a dissenter would have no bearing on your professional career, but third year clerkship grades aren't exactly based on objectivity - so I've heard. I'm thinking about going to one of the administrators that I know pretty well and discussing this with them, too, especially in the context of preceptors and how to handle it in third year. We have a handful of non-religious people in our class, but I would say the overwhelming majority believes in the same god. There's even a prayer group before every test, for Christ's sake. The culture is insane where I'm at and literally inescapable given the amount of time we have to spend together in the classroom or in clinic.

I was religious for the majority of my life so I'm more than capable of blending in or - let's be honest - lying, but I would be sacrificing... my pride? Myself? All that is good and moral? I don't know. FWIW, all of my best friends are very religious, and I respect them all the same. But they know me and love me and do not directly influence my professional future. I don't know. Does UWorld cover this? ;)
I'm not trying to be rude here, but get over it? I went to undergrad at a school that had more institutionalized sanctity than what you described and I was non-religious (at least with respect to the religion they preached). In my gen biochem course, the lecture ended early on Good Friday and the professor told us the importance of Easter and the resurrection for the final 10 minutes of class as part of the lecture presentation. Yes, it's irritating, and yes, what people do can border on the absurd to the point of even being amusing, but to think you're going to be screwed because of differences in theology is ridiculous. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. If you think you're actually being harmed because of your religious beliefs, then talk to your course/clerkship director, ombudsman, or even your dean. I think you're making way too many assumptions though and are assuming the worst when there is very little likelihood that would happen.

All bets are off unless you go to Loma Linda though. ;)

(sent from my phone)
 
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I'm not trying to be rude here, but get over it? I went to undergrad at a school that had more institutionalized sanctity than what you described and I was non-religious (at least with respect to the religion they preached). In my gen biochem course, the lecture ended early on Good Friday and the professor told us the importance of Easter and the resurrection for the final 10 minutes of class as part of the lecture presentation. Yes, it's irritating, and yes, what people do can border on the absurd to the point of even being amusing, but to think you're going to be screwed because of differences in theology is ridiculous. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. If you think you're actually being harmed because of your religious beliefs, then talk to your course/clerkship director, ombudsman, or even your dean. I think you're making way too many assumptions though and are assuming the worst when there is very little likelihood that would happen.

All bets are off unless you go to Loma Linda though. ;)

(sent from my phone)
No, you're probably right. I'll know when I get there and will probably resurrect this thread. Looking forward to talking with my preceptor and an admin. to see what they say though.
 

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I've had very similar feelings about things. As 3rd year approaches I've wondered too about how to deal with these situations. I've never been questioned as directly as you have, but when patients talk about their faith I just nod along and try to move to a different topic. I would say if you're directly questioned, there's nothing wrong with saying 1) while you respect the patient's beliefs, you feel it's more appropriate to focus on the patient's health or 2) you don't attend church. While I am all about developing a friendly relationship with a patient, it is not appropriate to have proselytizing occur on either side. Your job is to respect their beliefs and to ensure that they are able to receive the religious services they want, but you're going to be a doctor, not a shaman.

I come from an extremely religious community too where people think of atheists as evil, baby-eating devilgoats (they think of them as satanists more than nonbelievers). Whatareyagonnado
 

NickNaylor

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No, you're probably right. I'll know when I get there and will probably resurrect this thread. Looking forward to talking with my preceptor and an admin. to see what they say though.
In my experience even the most proselytizing academic is capable of separating professional and personal conduct. I think the majority of your supervisors will evaluate you based on your performance as a medical student regardless of what they know about your personal beliefs. I'm sure there are people out there that can't do that, but I never ran into that in my four years in a similar situation.

I guess the main point is that I wouldn't take flaunting religion to mean that people are intolerant of opposing views. I don't think it's as much of a "us vs. them" mentality as you're worried about. Some religious people are just more... up front about their beliefs than others. They also tend to express those beliefs more publicly when they know others share similar ideas. As I said, though, that doesn't mean they're going to burn non-believers at the stake.

(sent from my phone)
 

Akali

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I'm not trying to be rude here, but get over it? I went to undergrad at a school that had more institutionalized sanctity than what you described and I was non-religious (at least with respect to the religion they preached). In my gen biochem course, the lecture ended early on Good Friday and the professor told us the importance of Easter and the resurrection for the final 10 minutes of class as part of the lecture presentation. Yes, it's irritating, and yes, what people do can border on the absurd to the point of even being amusing, but to think you're going to be screwed because of differences in theology is ridiculous. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. If you think you're actually being harmed because of your religious beliefs, then talk to your course/clerkship director, ombudsman, or even your dean. I think you're making way too many assumptions though and are assuming the worst when there is very little likelihood that would happen.

All bets are off unless you go to Loma Linda though. ;)

(sent from my phone)
Is it really that ridiculous though? I agree it most likely wouldn't have any significant or even noticeable detrimental effect, but I do feel that if a religious person finds out that you are atheist, you will lose some social capital from that person - whether they are liking you less consciously or subconsciously.

I remember hearing about some survey done not too long ago that showed that most Americans distrusted atheists like crazy, like worse than criminals or something like that. Maybe it wasn't general distrust but unwillingness to vote them into public office or something.
 

NickNaylor

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Is it really that ridiculous though? I agree it most likely wouldn't have any significant or even noticeable detrimental effect, but I do feel that if a religious person finds out that you are atheist, you will lose some social capital from that person - whether they are liking you less consciously or subconsciously.

I remember hearing about some survey done not too long ago that showed that most Americans distrusted atheists like crazy, like worse than criminals or something like that. Maybe it wasn't general distrust but unwillingness to vote them into public office or something.
Yeah, probably. But that shouldn't be all that surprising. If I were a deeply religious person I probably wouldn't be too interested in forging a deep relationship with someone with whom I disagreed about the divine. That doesn't mean they're out to sabotage you or otherwise make your life hard. It just means that you probably won't be BFFs.

And I think the statistic you're citing is about people that hold public office.

(sent from my phone)
 
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Is it really that ridiculous though? I agree it most likely wouldn't have any significant or even noticeable detrimental effect, but I do feel that if a religious person finds out that you are atheist, you will lose some social capital from that person - whether they are liking you less consciously or subconsciously.

I remember hearing about some survey done not too long ago that showed that most Americans distrusted atheists like crazy, like worse than criminals or something like that. Maybe it wasn't general distrust but unwillingness to vote them into public office or something.
It's not ridiculous at all. Anyone who uses their professional leverage over someone to proselytize is committing gross unprofessionalism. It should not be tolerated. Now are we in a position to make demands...no. So going along is 99 times out of 100 a matter of survival necessity.

But it shouldn't sit well. And if it does you lack fortitude.

It's true that the faithful get abused in liberal areas. That too should not be tolerated.
 

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I remember hearing about some survey done not too long ago that showed that most Americans distrusted atheists like crazy, like worse than criminals or something like that. Maybe it wasn't general distrust but unwillingness to vote them into public office or something.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=in-atheists-we-distrust

Interesting points from the article:

Gervais and his colleagues presented participants with a story about a person who accidentally hits a parked car and then fails to leave behind valid insurance information for the other driver. Participants were asked to choose the probability that the person in question was a Christian, a Muslim, a rapist, or an atheist. They thought it equally probable the culprit was an atheist or a rapist, and unlikely the person was a Muslim or Christian.

Atheists are one of the most disliked groups in America. Only 45 percent of Americans say they would vote for a qualified atheist presidential candidate, and atheists are rated as the least desirable group for a potential son-in-law or daughter-in-law to belong to.
 

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I really don't have a problem with this. Religion and faith are important parts of American life.

I think good doctors should be able to discuss spirituality and religion with their patients. Maybe this means going to church once in a while.
 

Akali

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=in-atheists-we-distrust

Interesting points from the article:

Gervais and his colleagues presented participants with a story about a person who accidentally hits a parked car and then fails to leave behind valid insurance information for the other driver. Participants were asked to choose the probability that the person in question was a Christian, a Muslim, a rapist, or an atheist. They thought it equally probable the culprit was an atheist or a rapist, and unlikely the person was a Muslim or Christian.

Atheists are one of the most disliked groups in America. Only 45 percent of Americans say they would vote for a qualified atheist presidential candidate, and atheists are rated as the least desirable group for a potential son-in-law or daughter-in-law to belong to.
Yeesh. The sad thing is that the distrust is actually really ignorant when you know the actual statistics of good and bad behavior between theists and atheists where theists tend to be much worse. There's also other fun observations like atheists tend to know much more about Christianity than Christians do themselves and atheism tends to increase with education, intelligence, increased life span, less divorce rates (which is especially ironic because Christians consider this a great sin - my grandparents suffered a ridiculously long, ridiculously terrible relationship because of this fact before just now finally getting a divorce), less abortion rates (also highly ironic), and less unwanted and teen pregnancies... just to name a few ;)
 
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Akali

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I really don't have a problem with this. Religion and faith are important parts of American life.

I think good doctors should be able to discuss spirituality and religion with their patients. Maybe this means going to church once in a while.
Slavery was also once an important part of American life. And I'd be willing to bet that in the future religion will also be less important in American life.
 

xXIDaShizIXx

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I really don't have a problem with this. Religion and faith are important parts of American life.

I think good doctors should be able to discuss spirituality and religion with their patients. Maybe this means going to church once in a while.
I'll tell you what. If they will go to medical school for us, then I'll go to church for them.
 
Nov 16, 2012
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I really don't have a problem with this. Religion and faith are important parts of American life.

I think good doctors should be able to discuss spirituality and religion with their patients. Maybe this means going to church once in a while.
What? Lot's of things are part of American life. A soldier withdrawing from loved ones because he had to be in constant fear of exploding devices and distinguishing suicide bombers from market shoppers. Should I do that to be able to talk to him. Should i become obese to understand the problems of weight loss.

That's just plain bad process.

A person wanting to talk about spiritual things should seek out someone well versed in their particular practice who actively engages in it. It's not my job to know the ins and outs of each of their religions or to pretend I share their beliefs. Incidentally, like the other atheist poster pointed out, we do tend to know quite a bit about the world's religions, as most of us had to look around to be sure before we said....that's some real bulls!t your kicking there. But I'm not the person to seek comfort from about the loveliness of the Great Hereafter. I have no idea what awaits.

Now. If they want to know about why I think life is worth living. Then fine we can talk. But if they want to testify....as many people do....and want a likeness of faith from me...well I'm sorry. I'm under no moral obligation to lie. Just as religious docs are under no obligation to prescribe contraceptives or perform abortions. It works both ways.

That said. I will never, while on duty, say anything that might even possibly be construed as calling a person's faith question. If they ask if I go to church...no ma'am. Are you saved?....sorry sir...I'm not christian. And so on.

It's crazy to think discussing things we have no familiarity with is some kind morally superior approach. That's what we do in this business. If we don't know, we refer. I would refer them to the chaplain. Or the rabbi. Or the imam. And so on.
 
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This thread got derailed for a bit, not surprisingly, but let's try to keep it from devolving into an atheism vs. Christianity debate because of one troll comment.
 

TriagePreMed

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I go to school in a pretty conservative region, and to put it simply, I see a lot of patients that are very eager to share their beliefs. The problem is that I try to be very honest with patients, and they tend to find out that I am not very religious. As soon as they start talking about their beliefs, I feel that the question "Are you also a believer?" becomes unavoidable. The problem is this, and it never fails: I feel that there is a very perceivable shift in the patient encounter soon after, and either they offer to pray for me or they close off and don't appear as enthusiastic to talk to me or provide me any more relevant history unless I specifically ask.

My question is: is it considered unethical to perhaps exaggerate my religious views in order to establish a better rapport with a patient? I have tried to be completely honest with patients, and it hasn't been too bad but I feel maybe this is a non-issue and that the potential to have patients trust you more supersedes the need for you to be completely honest about something as trivial [to medicine] as religion.
Just brush it off and tell them some BS like it's policy for students not to share their beliefs.
 

MalachiConstant

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That said. I will never, while on duty, say anything that might even possibly be construed as calling a person's faith question. If they ask if I go to church...no ma'am. Are you saved?....sorry sir...I'm not christian. And so on.

It's crazy to think discussing things we have no familiarity with is some kind morally superior approach. That's what we do in this business. If we don't know, we refer. I would refer them to the chaplain. Or the rabbi. Or the imam. And so on.
Totally agree here. I would never be confrontational with a patient, but at the end of the day, I'd rather be honest and let the cards fall where they may than to bull**** someone.
 

Akali

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Comparing slavery to religion?! Seriously?!
Only in the aspect that I explicitly mentioned and that was relevant to what the post I was responding to was saying - that just because something is considered essentially important to American society at one point doesn't necessarily mean it is a good thing or that it is something that will stay important.

But now that you mention it, they actually do have other things in common if you really think about it.
 

link2swim06

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I really don't have a problem with this. Religion and faith are important parts of American life.

I think good doctors should be able to discuss spirituality and religion with their patients. Maybe this means going to church once in a while.
Alright well I am agonstic.

To me scientology and christianity seem both about as likely.

I am assuming you are a christian. Would you go a scientology meeting a couple times a month to "be able to discuss spirituality and religion?"


Anyhow I try to defer to the hospitals religious people. They can talk to the pt. If they really want to pray, then we will pray. No harm to me, makes them happy, win win.
 
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Alright well I am agonstic.

To me scientology and christianity seem both about as likely.

I am assuming you are a christian. Would you go a scientology meeting a couple times a month to "be able to discuss spirituality and religion?"


Anyhow I try to defer to the hospitals religious people. They can talk to the pt. If they really want to pray, then we will pray. No harm to me, makes them happy, win win.
Yeah, praying is great. No problem. I'll even sing or chant or dance or whatever. But if asked to identify myself and declare allegiance with some specific theology or custom specifically, I'm apologizing and referring. If that's not good enough....oh well.
 
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When they ask if you are a believer, just lie and say you believe in "miracles". When their medicine works and they thank god, you know exactly what was doing the work
 
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When they ask if you are a believer, just lie and say you believe in "miracles". When their medicine works and they thank god, you know exactly what was doing the work
No. I'm not doing that. One small lie could easily spin out of control. Lies get too complicated. If I started doing that I'd have to remember who I told what and life is too short to be wasting my time like that.

Feel free. It's not a bad strategy.
 
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No. I'm not doing that. One small lie could easily spin out of control. Lies get too complicated. If I started doing that I'd have to remember who I told what and life is too short to be wasting my time like that.

Feel free. It's not a bad strategy.
Not to defend my position as if there exists a correct answer, but I think it is miraculous that with modern medicine we can do so much. A miracle to a religious person might be divine intervention in their treatment. This simple explanation is satisfactory for myself, and fulfills a void that may be left if the patient is questioning your religious beliefs and you reply in the negative.

"Are you a believer?" - patient
"Yes, I believe in miracles"- me
I didn't say I believed in god and if they follow up with "do you believe in god", when you say no, but there are so many unexplainable things, they may be less likely to be judgmental of you.

Again, this is how I approach the subject. Feel free to do what makes you happy. As discussed above, there are still some people who see atheists as the worst type of sinner, so don't be surprised if you get screamed at for being a heathen. I can't believe I typed all of this out.
 
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Nov 16, 2012
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Not to defend my position as if there exists a correct answer, but I think it is miraculous that with modern medicine we can do so much. A miracle to a religious person might be divine intervention in their treatment. This simple explanation is satisfactory for myself, and fulfills a void that may be left if the patient is questioning your religious beliefs and you reply in the negative.

"Are you a believer?" - patient
"Yes, I believe in miracles"- me
I didn't say I believed in god and if they follow up with "do you believe in god", when you say no, but there are so many unexplainable things, they may be less likely to be judgmental of you.

Again, this is how I approach the subject. Feel free to do what makes you happy. As discussed above, there are still some people who see atheists as the worst type of sinner, so don't be surprised if you get screamed at for being a heathen. I can't believe I typed all of this out.
:laugh: You're right. Diversion, redirection, maintain the rapport. If I was being gut honest I think something causes me to reject those mental acrobatics because they don't come easily to me. I resent having to do it, just to accommodate somebody's believees (louis ck). Some people do it well and a world of possibilities opens up. I don't. So I don't. People can just deal with it.. And I go no where fast up any ladder of success. And I try like hell to get back to some patch of civilization where faith isn't considered righteous for it's own sake.
 
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JGimpel

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You guys have got to watch Religulous by Bill Maher; it's AWESOME!

[YOUTUBE]8uqiv3tCghA[/YOUTUBE]

To a patient asking if you're a Christian (actually happens more often than I thought it would): "I'd prefer that subject not to be the focus of our discussion today. Tell me more about why you're here so I can help you."

To a supervisor: "I'm really not that religious" or "I've got so much studying to do these days that I have a hard time fitting the church into my life."

To the Jim Jones Kool-Aid drinker that heckles you about religion every day: "Being a scientist makes it very difficult to believe in things that I can't prove and this is why I'm an atheist. This won't change the next time I see you." If this person is a patient, they will get referred to a physician, "more in line with your beliefs, sir."

If I have to sneak in my own thermos of coffee every day because I get sneered at by administration, I'll gladly thank them for my training and let another less religious institution get the benefit of the thousands of hours of training they invested in me.

I don't preach tolerance, I ask that all be respected if they are respectful. From what I know of the real-world definition, tolerance is a person not agreeing with another person or his views, but being forced to accept that they must work together. Many people have an incorrect view of what tolerance really is.

Gotta love Wikipedia:
Paradox of tolerance, the problem that a tolerant person is antagonistic toward intolerance, hence intolerant of it.

The Muslim and Hindi coworkers I admire the most are the ones that put that extra effort into looking absolutely professional with it, having their headpiece almost perfect every day, or their Hijab made from such beautiful fabrics and colors that you can't help but appreciate them. The ballers have the jewelry on their head match the belt and the shoes and I'm all for it. No problem with a Kippah worn on the head of a Jewish person or a surgical cap full of awesome colors and tribal designs. Well starched white shirts and black dress pants every day doesn't bother me at all. The ones that do the bare minimum and have the "I'm X, deal with it" attitude won't get much respect from an atheist like myself.

I wish I could afford to be a Scientologist...so I could do something much better with all that money!
 
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JP2740

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=in-atheists-we-distrust

Interesting points from the article:

Atheists are one of the most disliked groups in America. Only 45 percent of Americans say they would vote for a qualified atheist presidential candidate, and atheists are rated as the least desirable group for a potential son-in-law or daughter-in-law to belong to.
Wait, you mean... If someone is religious, they wouldn't want their son or daughter to marry someone who doesn't believe in God? Shocking revelation!