A Nurses Examination of Conscience
A Nurses Examination of Conscience
Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska
- I am a nurse. I’m a Catholic. Can I say with a clear conscience: “I am a Catholic nurse”?
- My job is not only my profession but also my vocation. I will comprehend this vocation if I enter into and make my own Christ’s words, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.”
- I must fulfill my vocation to the best of my ability, mindful of any family responsibilities which I may also have; performing my nursing work in a spirit of service and love.
- God has put talents in my hands and I must not waste them. Christ Himself through His activities among the sick shows me how to behave.
- Every act of Christ’s mercy was a manifestation of holiness. In spite of this Christ would still retire from people in order to pray. Do I follow his example? Do I delude myself thinking that my work is my prayer’? And yet I have time for so many other activities outside of work! Can I really not find some time just for God? Do I pray for strength, or thank God for my vocation?
- Do I neglect Holy Mass on Sundays and feast days, convincing myself that I am too tired.
- Do I try to get to know my religion more deeply through reading, discussions, attending religious conferences? If not – why? Because of arrogance or laziness? Maybe I do not want to hear the truth about myself?
- Do I remember that God looks at me and sees everything? Am I only working to make an impression, to gain praise, or to dazzle those working with me?
- The good that I achieve is only a reflection of the goodness of God. Have I boasted about my work? Do I admire myself?
- Do I work on developing in myself the qualities of a good nurse and not become discouraged in this undertaking?
- Do I appreciate the dignity of my profession and do I try to express it in words and deeds? Do I understand that going beyond my nursing duties and reaching for the physician’s role is a departure from the path of my calling?
- As a Catholic nurse, do I feel co-responsibility for my profession? What am I doing to raise its status profile? Do I evade professional involvement in this area?
- If I am married, and I have children, and yet work professionally, how do I combine both responsibilities? As a nurse, am I sufficiently committed that my personal concerns do not jeopardize those patients entrusted to my care, be they in the hospital or the clinic or in the community? Or – alternatively – do I neglect my family responsibilities in preference for my work? Perhaps I am taking on too much work, immersing myself in it unnecessarily? Am I cheerful and polite only at work, but then unwind at home in a foul irritable mood? Or maybe it’s the other way round?
- How do I fulfill my professional duties; am I punctual, conscientious in carrying out orders? Do I work according to the principles of the art of nursing in the hospital, clinic, and in the patient’s home?
- Maybe I work with modern equipment, among the most advanced achievements of medicine. Do I remember that these inventions and scientific achievements reflect the glory of God, the Creator of human thought? Do I try to continually improve myself professionally?
- Am I truthful? Do I have the courage to admit my errors and mistakes, or maybe not, concealing or falsifying facts to protect my actions or my convictions? Was I conscientious in my verbal and written reports, documentation, and statistics?
- Do I respect common property? Have I destroyed it or misappropriated it? Have I returned everything I have borrowed?
- What is my attitude towards my own welfare and the welfare of my colleagues? Do I have the courage to intervene with legitimate demands for improvement? Do I take part in strikes or have I encouraged others to participate? Have I received money or other remuneration dishonestly? This could have been ‘compensation’ or a bonus upon leaving a hospital, or for complaining about harsh conditions. Did I take money in advance “to better care for a hospital patient”, or did I negotiate a fee with a family for compensation later, while on a salary; do I understand that this is simply a bribe? Do I suggest the use of medications which I want to promote, although they are not needed? Perhaps I ask too high a price for medicines which I received for sale? Maybe I demanded too high a fee for private practice, not taking into account the financial resources of the sick? Despite a low salary do I work without reproach?
- How do I respond to the request to work extra hours – in the case of standing in for someone, or an epidemic, or the need for additional home visits, or staying on with a seriously ill patient?
- Do I have anything to admit in regards to my behavior towards staff and patients of the opposite sex? If everything is fine at work, what about in my private life? Do I understand that the Lord God does not divide morality into “private” and “work-related” spheres and that His commandments are immutable?
- Do I look after for my own health? Do I exhaust myself unnecessarily, claiming recklessly that “Nothing will happen to me”? Is my life style undermining my strength to work?
- What is my attitude towards a person who is ill? Do I make a conscious effort not to fall into apathy and routine?
- Do I pray for the sick and all those entrusted to my care?
- Do I shy away from essential nursing care of the sick, resorting to more advanced and ‘effective’ treatments, unnecessarily replacing doctors?
And yet our patients sense our love the most, when we wash them, feed them, make them more comfortable! Do I do everything within my power to provide the sick with just such care, either personally or by skillfully organizing my own tasks or the work of others? Maybe I excuse myself from these genuine nursing tasks convincing myself that I need to do something else, while I all the time I especially search them out, for example, tidying up the first aid kit – one more time, or writing out medical histories for the benefit of doctors? Perhaps I go to watch interesting procedures at the cost of neglecting the sick?
In community nursing – maybe I have convinced myself that I do not have the time to make another home visit, but still manage to create for myself the task of unnecessarily tidying up nursing reports?
- Do I treat the sick simply as numbers, as sickness “cases” forgetting about the unique personality of each one of them? Do I remember that the hundredth surgery for me is the first one for the patient? That every newborn baby – from among many – which I am carrying out [of the nursery] to its mother, is her greatest love?
- Do I nurse with increased gentleness unconscious patients, children and the elderly? Do I encompass with special care the distressed and anxious?
- What is my attitude towards the dying? When there is no one present from their family with them do I do everything I can to substitute for them? Were there occasions when I sat idly in the nurses’ station, leaving dying patients to themselves?
- How do I approach the religious concerns of the sick? Do I care for them? Was I maybe too insistent, following some set ideology? Did I do everything in my power to enable a seriously ill patient to receive the Holy Sacraments( e.g. Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Viaticum, and an Apostolic Pardon)? Am I concerned about baptism for Christian infants threatened with death? What is my collaboration with the hospital chaplain like? Do I facilitate the chaplain’s work by providing, whenever possible, peace in the patients’ room, providing explanations, and sharing insights?
- What is my attitude towards the family of my patient? Do I try to understand them? Was I patient with them even when they seemed boring and intrusive to me? What if it was my own child who was sick, or my father?
- What is my attitude towards those I visit at home? Do I carry out my visits conscientiously and with kindness? Do I get discouraged by my lack of success? When I come across a chronically sick patient during home visits, do I try and care for them?
- Do I maintain professional confidentiality not only in regards to the diagnosis of the disease, but also concerning the worries and problems entrusted to me by patients and their families while visiting in their homes?
- Do I try to make procedures as painless as possible for the patients? Do I expose the sick unnecessarily, not respecting their modesty or that of other adults and children who may be present?
- Do I understand that my duties include caring for the psychological nature of the sick? Do I try to find time to talk to them, am I patient enough? Do I try to entertain an ill child? Do I try and create a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere for the sick?
- Do I let them feel my fatigue and haste? Have I given my patients promises without being fully aware that I may be unable to keep them? Do I keep my promises?
- Did I anticipate their wishes, and show them genuine care and concern? Do I remember that Christ acted immediately among his sick people, without delay, going out to meet them – and that the Mother of God went about her tasks “in haste”?
- Do I display less of a caring attitude towards those sick people, whom I do not have much sympathy for, than for those with whom I can empathize? Do I try and control my disgust? Do I complain about ingratitude, and point this out to the sick and their families? And yet only one person cured of leprosy thanked Christ!
- How do I approach concerns about the life of the unborn? Do I know the exact position of the Church, and do I act in accordance with it, and offer instructions, advice and support to women, in the light of it? Do I have the courage of my convictions to refuse help in lethal procedures? Do I back down in this respect, fearing for my job and position? Do I make fun of large families? In the case of a threat to the life of the unborn child, have I done everything in my power mindful of the law and prevailing local rulings, to protect and support the unborn child and the welfare of the mother?
- Do I embrace with special care unmarried mothers, attempting to rekindle their suppressed maternal love and assure them proper support and living conditions?
- Do I foster contempt for “social outcasts”, such as alcoholics, young offenders, prostitutes? Do I dismiss them saying, “It’s not worth bothering about them?”
- What is my relationship with my colleagues: doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and other people in the team in which I work?
- If I work in an atmosphere of intrigue, envy, laziness, gossip, irresponsibility, and corruption – do I succumb, or on the contrary – do I tried to clean it up? Do I exacerbate heated disputes or just the opposite – do I try and mitigate them and create harmony? Do I easily take offense, becoming irritable, petty; and am I unforgiving of slights?
- Do I realize that as a Catholic my duty is to evangelize, above all by example? On the other hand do I flaunt my zeal and devotion?
- Maybe among my colleagues are decent people who are however non-religious, while other so-called practicing colleagues are less concerned about the sick and are less conscientious? Am I therefore led astray with temptations against the value of professing my faith?
- Am I afraid to expose my superiors and colleagues where there is a need to oppose something which interferes with the good of the patient? Do I cowardly hide the mistakes of others, and tolerate evil? Do I tolerate someone else’s dishonesty through a mistaken belief in collegiality?
- Do I maintain the dignity of my profession in regard to doctors? Do I try and encourage patients to respect medical authority?
- Do I willingly stand-in for my colleagues when necessary, without mentioning favors; have I visited sick colleagues, and shown them compassion for their misfortune? Am I trustworthy and mindful of other people’s time? Do they wait for me in vain?
- What is my attitude towards novice colleagues who are just beginners? Do I dampen their enthusiasm or lower the standard of work? Do I help them, sharing with them my experiences; am I understanding of their needs? What is my attitude towards nurses and personnel with lower qualifications than me? Do I show them disrespect, discouraging them from their assigned work, forgetting that all work is equally important, because it all serves the sick? Do I care about my colleagues’ continuing education?
- What is my attitude towards the non-professional staff? Am I sufficiently demanding but at the same time polite and kind; am I a good role model for them by my conscientiousness and diligence?
- If I am in a responsible position – do I set a good example by working with the sick, when time permits me? Am I quite demanding, or am I too lax, worried about my popularity? Have I given up trying to raise the professional and moral standards of nurses? Do I shut myself in my office not wanting to know and think about what’s going on – in which case why am I there? Do I care enough about the welfare of my staff?