During my second and third semesters of clinicals, I stayed overnight between clinical days at the home of an RN and his father, the brother and father of one of my classmates. The experience was just as valuable as any during that time, being able to quiz and be quizzed while the iron of clinical preparation was still hot is something I recommend. Labs, pillow arrangements, care planning were all discussed, but maybe even more valuable was "how things really work in the field". After several years in Hemodialysis and some time in ICU, he had plenty of stories to tell. His father, too, after a long military career and tenure as a spanish teacher in urban public schools, could spin quite a yarn. I often wished I could take some video or audio of these stories, but it's difficult to do without making people uncomfortable.
Anyway, one of the most puzzling things this RN related to me involved ongoing harassment and discrimination from his coworkers for describing himself as a buddhist (he's of european descent, not that that matters). They would condescend and speak derisively about his "imaginary friend", and engage in all sorts of subtle psychological intraprofessional violence against him. These coworkers were universally christianist, and felt strongly that christianism was deeply connected to the profession of Nursing. I wonder how those same nurses treated their muslim, hindu, buddhist, etc. patients!
A different classmate who dropped out of the program half-way told me he suffered some of that same lateral violence from faculty memebers because of his atheism. This also seemed strange to me, mainly because questions about my religiosity never came up, even during those two semesters in a catholic hospital (which was -much- easier going than I anticipated). Later on, during a scandalous fling with a classmate, I learned that there was a rumor circulating through the class (and also through the faculty, by association) that I was jewish. I was amused by this, since all three of my names are irish.
I strongly resist any "ist's" or "ism's" being applied to me, especially when they denote any particular school of religious or metaphysical thought (preferring instead to borrow the ideas I like from all of them), and at the same time I was always aware of the reality-tunnels of the patients and coworkers around me. I made a joke once to one of my patients at the catholic hospital about how yoga and acupuncture are great, but here "it's the eucharist or nothin'". The classmate assisting me (who was catholic) looked horrified, but the patient laughed. A combination of prior conversations and a quick glance at the reading material at his bedside confirmed it was a safe joke to make.
Anyway, It's clear that despite employers and schools working to increase diversity in the nursing population, a monoculture still exists. Nurses are predominantly female (90-95%), middle-aged (mid 40's) and overwhelmingly subscribe to one of the three abrahamic religions (islam, judaism, xtianity). I think there's still a sort of "nurses eat their young" effect going on that counterbalances institutional drives for diversity, but even still, the percentage of men in nursing has increased over 200% since the 70's, so the trend seems to be towards greater diversity anyhow.
What troubles me most is the correlation that abrahamists (christianists in particular) perceive between their faith, their work and their morality/ethics. In true abrahamic style, many of these people slip down the path of believing that they have the market cornered on morality and compassion, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that, in fact, they could use a little work in that area.
The case they make against buddhism is possibly more asinine than average, since they view it as more of a religion than a set of techniques, and that's not entirely accurate, especially for people who adopted it outside of the cultures it arose from. I've tried and failed numerous times to explain to christianists (especially) that the practice of meditation does not, in fact, contradict anything in their faith or religion.
So it's for these people that I present the four great vows of buddhism. We chant this before zazen when we train in Aikido (it's a traditional style dojo). I present it as something to ponder for people who think that nurse=christian. First in some asian language or other, and then in english (maybe not the most accurate translation, but the one that appears in our chant-a-long booklets).
SHU JO MU HEN SEI GAN DO
BON NO MU JIN SEI GAN DAN
HO MON MU RYO SEI GAN GAKU
BUTSUDO MU JO SEI GAN JO
Sentient beings are innumerable, I vow to care for them all.
Self-delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to relinquish them all.
Gateways to truth are immeasurable, I vow to enter them all.
The buddha way is complete wakefulness, I vow to manifest it.
I haven't seen a better mantra for nursing in any other religion, that's for sure.