I'm an atheist: would you have me as your doctor?

A question I’d like feedback on, before ever “coming out” as an atheist.

Definitely. In fact, I’d be comforted to know that you’re assuming this time around is my only shot at consciousness.

Being atheist myself, I wouldn’t really care. I’d prefer not to have religion enter that relationship at all. Best is if I never know about your religion or lack thereof. Which of course means no preaching!

I hope you don’t think the reaction of people here will be the same as people in the “real world”. There’s lots more atheists here than in the average population, I’m sure.

I’m pretty sure the majority of my relatives would never go to an atheist doctor.

Yeah, why would it even come up? Are you going to be hanging big anti-religion posters in your waiting room? I don’t see how it’s even relevant.

I second this.

Also, I’d feel more comfortable because there probably a lower chance that you’d try to bring religious morality into making medical decisions. If my morality affects my medical decisions, that’s my business, but I wouldn’t want a doctor trying to direct my choice based on their own morality.

What if sometime in the future I want birth control, or an abortion or do any procedure that a very religious doctor is more likely to feel uncomfortable with or refuse to do? Better for me to have an atheist doctor, or at least a religious doctor who doesn’t bring up their religion in a medical context.

But how would they even know, do they quiz the receptionist when they make the appointment? I’m just kinda baffled. I mean, I make the appointment, go see the doctor for maybe half an hour, and then leave. Where does religion even enter into it?

This is basically what I was going to say…I don’t think this board is very representative of the general population, unless maybe you live in a large city.

Then again, as others point out, how would the patient know? Who asks their doctor if they are religious or not?

Personally, all I care about in regards to my doctor is how good of a doctor he or she is.

I wouldn’t care (being agnostic myself) but I would be a little weirded out if you told me you were (atheist/Catholic/gay/adopted). Not because I have a problem with any of it, but some things wouldn’t often come up in typical doctor/patient conversation. But if for whatever reason it did come up, no problem at all.

I should add that I’m not really a people person. :smiley:

It’s not like I need my doctors to be saying rosaries over my underactive thyroid, anyway. If I want spiritual support, I’ll go to church. If I need medical care, I’ll see a doctor. If I’m ever very very sick, there’s a chance I’ll need body and soul looked after, but I think that can be well taken care of by the right people in each field of work, without my needing to find a doctor who’ll pray for me.

I have no idea what beliefs are held by any of the professionals whose practices I frequent. And I really don’t see how it could make any difference at all, as long as they remain professional.

I’m a not-so-practicing Catholic, FWIW.

The topic of religion is raised more often than you imagine by patients. I have been asked my opinion on spiritual matters.

Furthermore, I’m considering joining an atheist organization; generally a “meet like-minded people” affair, but with a political arm. I wondered over the potential to hurt my practice.

Not unless you were a jerk about it. Because I don’t give money to people who are jerks if I can help it. But, as long as you’re a good doctor, it wouldn’t bother me in the least.

Your question should be pitched at the religious believers among us.

I don’t know how religious if at all most of the doctors I’ve seen are, and as others say, it’s only really an issue if they bring it into the professional sphere.

[slight hijack follows] I do remember being annoyed by a doctor I met at a social event who’d treated a very sick patient that day, and remarked that this person’s life was “in God’s hands”. My reaction was “what a cop-out!” I told my Dad (also a doctor, not devout but not an atheist either) about it and he said it was a form of humility. I wasn’t as charitable. I took it to mean - if the patient survives, I get the credit; if he croaks, God’s to blame. [/end hijack]

I agree with your dad.

Yes, but this cuts both ways. Suppose the patient is the 10 year-old daughter of a conservative Christian mother and I promote the soon-to-be on-the-market wart virus vaccine to reduce the child’s risk of cervical cancer? In this scenario, my “morality” influences the care choices offered to patient. Sure, Mom could refuse but patient choice is highly influenced by how a physician “sells” a therapy. I think I’m sensitive to such issues relating to patient care, but would a religious patient be overly skeptical about my bias?

Considering how often the reverse perspective seems to be present in this society (sick patient recovers: “Thank God; we were all praying for you!”; sick patient dies: “The doctor screwed up, let’s sue him!”), a little turnabout might be refreshing once in a while.

The only time religion ever came up with a patient in my experience was a Jehovah’s Witness who wouldn’t stop trying to convert me no matter how often I told her I wasn’t interested.

These days, of course, my patients don’t say much of anything. :slight_smile:

As a Christian of some sort (there are too many denominations in my family for me to claim just one), I’d say that the Hippocratic oath is enough for me.

Well, it’s not like there’s an alternative to the HPV vaccine, so what choice is there?

I don’t see that religion necessarily has to enter the picture in your example, if you approach the subject in a common-sense manner.

Also remember that you’ll never please 100% of your patients 100% of the time anyway. That’s just human nature.

I’d be delighted to have an atheist doctor, as I’m atheist myself. One of the worst doctors I ever had told me that I should read the Bible for at least 10 minutes every day. Didn’t matter to him that I’m not a believer (and wasn’t at the time, either), he thought it would do me good. He also didn’t want me to eat anything after 3 PM. And he knew I was diabetic. I don’t know if he was just plain weird, or actually crazy. At any rate, I got a new doctor.

I’m also a mother who made sure that her teenage daughter received hepatitis immunization. I told her that it wasn’t permission to have sex at the time, but that I thought she’d probably want to have sex at some point in her life. She was sure that she was going to die of embarrassment RIGHT THERE.

I wouldn’t care either way, as long as it didn’t influence your care of me in a way that limited my healthcare options. In fact, ideally I shouldn’t be finding out my doctor’s religion or lack thereof.