Professional/Ethical Dilemma


I am a medical doctor. As a result of this, I am allowed into peoples most private and personal moments. Often, there are times where people are emotionally distraught or particularly vulnerable and exposed.

I am fairly good at separating my personal emotion during these encounters, and I generally try to be supportive without becoming too personal.

There have been a few occasions lately though, where I have felt compelled to guide someone towards Jesus. I have never done it though today I almost did.

Given the secular society we live in, my gut is that this is a bad idea. Perhaps not ethical if my primary focus should be on treating the disease?

Your thoughts are most appreciated.


Maybe turn it to yourself, so to speak… Something like, “I always find prayer helpful in these times,” or “I experienced something similar once, and God helped me in xyz ways.” Then you aren’t telling them “what to do,” you’re just offering an anecdote from your own life.


Your best bet would be to get them to bring up religion. If they bring it up than you’re safe to discuss it with them. Perhaps ask if they participate in any activities or are part of any social groups. I know my primary care doc asks me those questions and I’ll usually mention church. I’m not sure if you have access to the information but records on patients these days will often mention religious affiliation.


What type of doctor are you if you don’t mind me asking, and are your patients only Catholic? If a young man or woman asked about birth control or masturbation what would you tell them?


I am curious about this, too.


I’m a registered nurse. We consider spiritual health as important as physical or mental health, so try to offer counsel in that area if appropriate.
When people have many many questions about their health, way more than usual, it may mean they are terrified of death. Sometimes I ask if they have a pastor, priest or rabbi they can talk to. People usually appreciate this, and will say something like, “my wife has been saying I should go back to church,” or “I’ve thought about talking to my priest.”

I think it’s fine to bring up the subject, as long as we’re not pushing them to any particular church. Our Lord can work with any movement toward him, no matter how small.



yes it’s appropriate. :slight_smile:


Yes, it is appropriate. We can talk about our faith and share it. This is still the land of the free. We are called to be a witness for Christ. It matters not what field you are in. Be strong and be faithful to Christ in all things. Just as you would counsel an over weight patient about diet and exercise, you can counsel them about spiritual matters. Every human being is body, mind and spirit. I had a recent appt with my urologist and he brought up prayer and thanksgiving just in general conversation. When my neurologist advised me to retire from a stressful career, he said that God would have something else for me to do :)…He was so right!! Don’t be handcuffed by the PC police. Ask the Lord to guide you and He will do it.


I am a nephrologist, I only take care of adults.

I take care of people with kidney problems, hypertension, dialysis, kidney transplants.

I often see people when they are about to die from kidney failure, sometimes they have poisoned themselves with drugs or other toxins but I treat them with dialysis and they survive. Sometimes they have a “come to God” experience, sometimes they curse me out after they wake up with no drugs in their system.

With respect to questions about masturbation/abortion/pre marital sex/ contraception… I have never been asked and I have very little overlap with those discussions.

The closest I have come is counselling child-bearing age women about medicine that would be toxic to a fetus, and I recommend abstinence as the only 100% guarantee against pregnancy.


Yours is very valuable work.
When you’ve saved their lives, and they’re marveling that they’re no longer at death’s door, it might be appropriate to mention that God must have some purpose in store for them. Sometimes that’s what I say when people tell me of a narrow escape.



I am an atheist, and I have had doctors bring up religion with me. Sometimes it was upsetting, sometimes it was fine. The difference was how it was approached.

The “do you have a priest, rabbi, etc.” approach is great. It comes across as genuine concern for my well-being, and there are ways I can end the conversation without having to talk about my religious beliefs if I don’t want to.

Talking about your experience is fine, possibly even good, if it is just conversational. I am fine with hearing my doctor prays in times like these, or if someone says they believe xyz. It also gives me outs if I don’t want to talk about it.

Asking if I want to pray with you, or directly asking my religion is terrible. I don’t want to be in a position where I could face reprisal if I don’t believe what you believe, or don’t want to pray with you. I was in a situation where a nurse was being really unfriendly until I said something (I don’t remember what), but she suddenly brightened up and said, “Oh, you are a Christian?!” It was clear that my stay was going to be way better if I answered yes.

I know some people don’t like being told people will pray for them, but it has never bothered me.

I just thought it might help to have an outside perspective.


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