A Catholic friend of mine is seriously considering becoming a nurse, but she’s concerned about how the HHS mandate and Obamacare will affect her as a nurse and if they will force her to reconsider. My own opinion was that she should still work towards becoming a nurse and that Catholic nurses will be even more needed as time goes by. She thanked me for that, but she said she wished she could talk to Catholic nurses already in the field and what they’re seeing. So I offered to ask around here to see if anyone–any Catholic nurses’ opinions would be specially welcome!–can shed some light on the subject, to which she said, “Oh, yes! That would be great!” So, these are her questions, in no particular order:
Is this a bad time for a Catholic to become a nurse? Do the mandate and Obamacare present major obstacles that might prevent Catholics from pursuing this profession?
Does the impact of the mandate and Obamacare vary depending on what a nurse does? Do they have the same effect in the ER or in surgery or in an ICU or in the maternity ward? Should that factor into her decision?
Since my friend intends to get her Bachelor’s degree in nursing, she expects it to take at least 3 years to achieve (she does have some coursework done already)–is there anything in the mandate or Obamacare that would affect her as a student?
Are there any resources that focus on Catholics in nursing that she could turn to for advice, pointers, etc.?
It’s as good as time as it always is to be a nurse, even a nurse who is Catholic. No, Obamacare does not present obstacles that would prevent Catholics from pursuing nursing.
It has nothing to do with Obama: The impact of non-Catholic secular society itself may present a problem for a nurse in the women’s health care setting for sure. It may affect a Catholic nurse working in the ER. I can’t see how it would affect a Catholic nurse in the med surg area, surgery, ICU, PCU and many other areas. If I were interested in women’s health or ER, I would definitely work for a Catholic institution only. Don’t bother in a secular institution unless you want a lot of potential problems. Because…
What it boils down to, is that if you’re assigned, take report on, and are responsible for a particular patient, then you are responsible for that patient and are required to carry out any physician orders. It doesn’t matter what you think is best according to your religious practices especially in an emergency situation. It matters that you have a responsibility to carry out physician orders. You cannot refuse an order because you find the order repugnant or unsavory. To do so will, and should, result in disciplinary action will will follow your nursing career, and again, it should. If you can find someone else to trade assignments or carry out some tasks for you that you find unsavory, or whatever, you can do that. But if there isn’t enough staffing, or if someone can’t help you out, then you have to do it. Assignments are up to the discretion of the charge nurse, and I don’t know any nurses where I work who would assign someone a patient that there were religious/ethical/moral problems that the nurse has with the assignement. Most people want a nice event-free drama-free day in which everyone can do their jobs, carry their own load, and work well so that everyone can leave on time after their 12-13 hour shift
However, consider this senario. There are four nurses on the floor, they all started out with six patients each. And there are only two patient care techs on the floor. One nurse happens to have three discharges. So now she has three patients. This senario is a very frequent one. The next patient will be admitted to that nurse with three patients, period. Unless another nurse will trade a patient with her (which likely will happen, but sometimes it doesn’t happen), guess what, that patient is hers.
Nurses helping each other out by covering for each other, helping out with tasks, etc. happens all the time, especially with a good strong team. But I wouldn’t count on it when it comes to Catholicism because the fact is, sometimes short-staffing will affect how we can help each other out. If I have 7 patients, I’m less likely to help start an IV or insert a catheter for a new nurse, Or help my coworker catch up on her medpass, because I have my hands full at the moment. They’ll have to get someone else to help, and the likelihood is that if I have 7 patients, so does everyone else. Now, if I had five patients, depending on their acuity, that’s a different story, I can and do help out much more. I’m also one of the nurses who is more likely to take an extra patient, but not everyone is. In fact, I’ve taken on 8 patients after a nurse was sent home and suspended for insubordination. But then, a few of us on staff can do that So throwing a hissy fit thinking you’ll get your way doesn’t always work. Something to keep in mind when deciding to work for a non-Catholic insitution, or even anyone who has certain moral dilemmas (like hanging blood) when caring for others who don’t share your beliefs.
I can’t think of any… what are your friend’s concerns as a nursing student?
The Catholic Bishops have a lot of information for those in the medical field on their website.
Rence, I’ve finally had a chance to tell my friend about what you’ve written, and she thanks you very much for your advice and counsel. I’m not so clear on her concerns about being a nursing student. It really sounded like she was trying to cover a lot of unknown bases when I talked to her, and I told her I thought she was being over-scrupulous and worrying too much. I hope she’s not trying to talk herself out of nursing because I think she’d be an awesome nurse. So please say prayers for her.
The real irony is that due to the fines associated with the HHS mandate, soon all the Catholic hospitals will either go out of business or be sold to secular companies, even if they do keep their old names.
In 2 years, if the HHS mandate is not repealed, there will be no Catholic hospitals in the USA. They’ll all be secular. Some of them are being sold already. They know that if they wait too long, it could turn into a bargain basement sale.
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