The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability to set aside their biases and provide care for patients whose values and beliefs are different from their own. By being employed in the healthcare field, nurses will encounter patients from all walks of life and from all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds as well as genders, religions, and other belief systems. In order to provide the best care to all their patients, nurses should always be aware of any conscious or unconscious biases they may have and set them aside while providing care. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should give a specific example of a time when they recognized a patient had values and beliefs different from their own and how they dealt with it.
"I am very active in my church, and I consider myself a very devout Christian. At the hospital that I work at, I often care for patients who have much different religious belief than my own, as I work in a very culturally diverse area. While some people in my church family have asked me if it is 'weird' for me to care for these people, for me, it isn't weird at all. I enjoy taking care of all people, and feel like it is my calling, no matter who they are or what religion they practice. I strive to give the best care possible to all my patients, despite how different their beliefs, religious or otherwise, may be from mine."
"This may be an atypical answer, but I once was in a very complex situation where I had to put my values and commitments as a nurse ahead of my personal feelings. A few years ago, while working in the ICU at the local hospital, a patient was admitted who had committed a horrific crime and had been critically injured while trying to escape the police. The crime was all over the news, and I was well aware of what the patient was accused of; but, when I walked into his room and assessed his needs, I did not see an accused criminal, I saw a human in need of care, love, and compassion, and I did everything I could to provide the best care I could. It was my job to provide care to the patient and not to judge the patient for the crimes he was being accused of."
"Spending most of my career working in a rural medical office, in a town that is very homogenous, I have not encountered many patients who are much different from myself. However, a patient came in not too long ago with his partner and because the alternative lifestyle that the couple lead is not very common in our community, and several of the nurses refused to assist with the patient. But, since I am not uncomfortable with this type of lifestyle, I stepped up and helped the patient and provided him with the same quality of care that I provide all my patients."
"I have been a nurse for many years, and I am aware that I have to constantly stay aware of my biases, both conscious and unconscious, in order to ensure I am providing the best care and customer service to my patients. The most applicable example that comes to mind is when I was working in an outpatient OB/GYN clinic, and a transgender woman came in to see the doctor for hormone treatment. The name and information on the schedule did not indicate that the patient was transgender, so I was a bit caught off guard when I went to the waiting room to call the patient back, as she very much still looked like the opposite gender. However, I immediately checked my biases and ensured that I was treating this woman with the care and respect that I give all my patients."
"During my junior semester, an older woman was watching the news and saying some things that I really didn't agree with. I chose not to say anything until she asked my opinion on the matter that was being discussed. I continued with my care and honestly replied with my beliefs and some facts to back it up, and we ended up having a lovely conversation hearing each other point of view."
The fact that you did not jump in with your opinion until asked shows a great deal of maturity and self-control. It sounds, by the outcome, that even when you did express yourself, you did so intelligently and respectfully. These are all characteristics that any interviewer will be keeping an eye out for :)
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"It has been hard for me to understand why the Jehovah's Witness don't accept the blood transfusions and let them die instead. Recently, my niece passed for this horrible misunderstanding. However, I am a professional nurse, and I gave her the last final care with love and respect as she wants."
Great answer! I have re-written it below with some suggestions to display your actionsa little more clearly.
"One example of a time when I experienced a difference in beliefs from a patient is when I cared for my niece who recently passed. Due to religious reasons, she would not accept blood transfusions. This was difficult for me to understand, as I saw blood transfusions as something that could provide healing. However, given that I am a professional nurse, I knew it was my duty to give her final care with love and respect, honoring the treatment that she chose. While this was difficult for me, because I saw an alternative form of treatment, I was comforted in knowing that I handled the situation in a way that honored her values and beliefs."
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