Abstract

Health care workers come in contact with patients from different religious and cultural backgrounds. Different religions may have different stance on how to provide medical care to their followers. Therefore, it becomes essential for health care workers to have a good knowledge of different religions, cultural beliefs and their world views. This paper will explore three different religions, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Buddhism,  their perspective on healing, components of healing, what is important to the people belonging to that particular religion when taken care by health care professionals whose spiritual beliefs are different from their owns, how do patients view their health care professionals who are able to let go their own beliefs in the interest of the patient's  beliefs and practices, and comparison of these beliefs to the Christian philosophy of faith and healing.

Health Care Provider and Faith Diversity

It is a general requirement that medical practitioners should be keen on religious and cultural diversity of their clients. According to the Joint Commission (JC) that hospitals are responsible for addressing and maintaining patient's rights, which includes cultural, divine, religious and individual values as well as practices of religious and spiritual beliefs. The health care providers are responsible to provide care to the patient as a whole person, which includes body, mind and spirit. The health care professional needs to have all the skills and knowledge in order to anticipate the needs of the patient and their family (Health care chaplaincy, 2009). This paper will discuss details about three faiths Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Sikhism

Sikhism are the disciples of God who follow the writing and teachings of ten Sikh Gurus, Sikh Holy Scripture and living Guru "Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji" (Singh, H, 2009). Guru means a teacher, someone who brings them from darkness to light. Sikhism religion was founded over 500 years ago, and population of Sikhs in India is less than two percent. The founder of Sikh religion was Guru Nanak Dev Ji. According to Sikhism, God is unseen, perpetual and the supreme Guru. Sikhs believe in equality for all, it involves working hard with your own hands, donating to those who are less fortunate than us, and meditating on God's name. According to Sikh Gurus any disease or suffering, which is incurable with medications and different treatments, can be cured by prayers and reciting Naam (Chanting God's name). The critical component of healing in Sikh religion is prayer, citing of hymns, playing holy music, reciting or listening to Gurbani (the wordings of the Guru's). They may choose to do meditation or yoga also. Religious fasting is not observed, people may be vegetarian or non- vegetarian. Most of the medical treatments are permitted for Sikhs and they are not forbidden from getting medical services, so that they can enjoy the life the God has gifted them. Saving a human life is the greatest thing, the Sikhs can ever do. They acknowledge genetic engineering, and organ donation (Singh, H, 2009).

When cared by a health care worker, whose spiritual beliefs differ from their own, it is very important to keep in mind following things:1. Turban has a very special respect in Sikh religion; it should not be removed without permission. 2. Never shave the hair on any part of the body without permission. 3. Provide clean, spacious, tidy and organized place for prayer and do not disturb the person while praying. 4. Sikh women may ask for a physician of the same religious beliefs and same gender(Penn Medicine, 2012). The Sikh people value the scientific knowledge and the latest technology and skills of health care workers. They respect and appreciate the health care workers when the health care workers are able to respect their religious beliefs and practices. When comparing to Christian faith they do not wear turban and there is no restriction on cutting hair or shaving. Christians do not have strict rules in regards to femininity, when receiving medical care. Despite of all these differences, both religions believe in prayer, reading their holy scriptures, and meditating.

Buddhism

Buddhism is one of the major classical religions in the world today. It has a total following of about three hundred million people all over the world. This faith was founded about 2,500 years ago and the founder was Siddhartha Gautama, who is also known as the Buddha. According to Health care chaplaincy, (2009) the people of this religion believe in obtaining spiritual illumination through meditation. According to Buddhism, the cause of illness is karma (law of cause and effect). They believe all types of sickness and sufferings starts from the mind and can be removed from the mind through extensive meditation.  According to Buddhists it is important to heal the body as well as the mind, by removing all negative beliefs and replace them with positivity.  Meditation is a critical component of healing in this religion. Meditation is done in private by patient or the family members around the patient. They may be vegetarian and may avoid caffeine products.  There is no restriction on getting blood administration, surgical procedures, and they accept organ donation.  They do accept medications, as long as the medications do not alter their state of mind.  This religion agrees for artificial insemination, birth controls, and infertility testing.

 When cared by a health care worker, whose spiritual beliefs differ from their own, it is very important to keep in mind following things: 1. Provide peaceful place for meditation. 2. Some of the Buddhist may be pure vegetarian and may not accept non vegetarian diet at all. 3. They may have a special request for their priest to come and pray for them.4. They may not accept narcotic pain medications, as these medications may alter their state of mind (Penn Medicine, 2012).  The health care workers may need to prioritize addressing and relieving their pain issue.The people from this religion respect health care workers, when they see that health care workers are going above and beyond their scope in order to meet their spiritual needs. Both religions Buddhism and Christianity believe in praying and meditating but not as much as Buddhist. Christians don't believe that mind is the only source responsible for all the sickness or sufferings.

Hinduism

This is the third largest religion in the world. According to Hinduism, a person must fulfill his duties towards his god, parents, teacher and the community. The goal of the human kind should be free from this deficient world and bond with the God and all the approaches to god are legitimate.  Illnesses and suffering are seen as the result of past actions, known as Karma (Health care chaplaincy, 2009). Hinduism, they have different Holy Scriptures and multiple founders, but Aruveda is the Veda that describes the complete health of the person. This Veda gives the knowledge about diet, herbal medications, meditation and prayers. Most of the Hindus are vegetarians and does not like to take the life of other animals. If they are not vegetarians, they may not eat beef and pork. Organ donation and blood transfusions are accepted. The components of healing are praying, meditating, holy scriptures reading, reciting, diet and use of herbal medications.

When cared by a health care worker, whose spiritual beliefs differ from their own, it is very important to keep in mind following things: 1. the patients might be concerned about getting treatment from a different gender. 2. Some of the patients may be pure vegetarians and may not consume garlic, onion or dairy products. Medications containing animal products can be a trouble too. 3. Religious fasting is common practice among Hindus, so the health care worker may have to address diet and medication issue. 4. Right hand is considered clean and is used for eating and left hand is used for toileting purposes. 5. Most of the patients might be wearing some kind of jewelry, which might have some religious significance. It is important for health care workers to ask for permission before removing it (Penn Medicine, 2012). The people from this religion have great respect for health care workers, but they are cautious of taking medications, but health care professional must explain the indication and importance of taking medications to the patient. They will not like the health care workers if they will receive the food and medications from the left hand, since they consider the left hand impure(Sukumaran, A, 1999). Hinduism as well as Christianity faith both believes in prayer and meditation, read Holy Scriptures, use of incense, and sacred bread is common. However Christianity does not believe in using right hand for clean purpose and left hand fro toilet purpose only and modesty is not as important as in Hinduism and they may not be as cautious with taking medications as people from Hindu religion.

This is a reality that we live in a world of diversity, with so many different religions, beliefs and practices. As health care professionals, it becomes extremely important for us to be opening minded, respectful, and try to contain our patient's beliefs and practices. Different faiths have different aspects of healing; we need to make sure to keep those in mind when coming across with those religions. By doing a research on Sikhism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, I have gained a vast knowledge about their religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds. I think that I am better prepared now to provide quality of care to all my patients with all due respect to their religious practices and beliefs.

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