Pray with Me
Written by Sharon B. Buchbinder
You are the Vice President of Nursing Services in a nondenominational community hospital, and you receive a complaint from a patient, who is a Wiccan. The patient and her primary care nurse, Penny Baker, were discussing her religious practices and how she prays, when another nurse, Ruth Goose, walked into the room, stated, ”Thou shalt not suffer a witch amongst you,” and told Penny not to discuss the “satanic religion” with the patient anymore. The patient demands an apology and threatens to go to the media. She feels she has been discriminated against because she is a Wiccan and that her patient care experience was poor during her hospitalization because of her spiritual beliefs. You convene a meeting with Penny and her immediate supervisor, Ruth Goose.
Ruth Goose is wearing a large gold cross on her neck. Penny wears no jewelry and is dressed in her blue scrubs. When you ask Penny what happened, Ruth answers for her. “She did the right thing. We don’t have to pray with witches. They worship Satan. It’s blasphemy. What’s next? Human sacrifice?” Penny can’t get a word in edgewise. Ruth keeps repeating, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch amongst you, it says so in Leviticus!”.
What should you do?
- What are the facts of this case?
- What is the nature of the organizational behavior problem?
- What are the 3 factors contributing to this dilemma?
- What are the top 3 management issues in this case?
- Who should be responsible for addressing these organizational issues?
- What kind of differences in spiritual and religious practices are you familiar with? What if the patient had asked Penny to pray with her? Should she have done so? Discuss the pros and cons of praying with patients.
- Provide your reflections and personal opinions as well as your recommendations for addressing the issue of praying with patients.
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