Sunday, July 27, 2008

Continuing indoctrination for nurses

The papal nurse will see you now

In the continuing observance (celebration?) of the fortieth anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, the St. Anthony of Padua Institute and the Diocese of Oakland are sponsoring an all-day conference on August 9 at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California. No, I won't be going. But if I were a nurse, I could get continuing education credit by attending. That's right: The California Board of Registered Nursing has rated the conference as being worth 4.6 contact hours for purposes of continuing education.

Ain't that a kick in the head?

Let us at least consider the possibility that the Humane Vitae conference will indeed be educational and not simply a day-long indoctrination on Catholic birth control dogma. After all, nurses have many Roman Catholic patients and one can imagine a secular purpose in learning about the things Catholics believe so as to understand their concerns better. We could list it under “cultural sensitivity,” which I'm sure is a good thing. Right?

Abandon all hope. Here are some highlights of the conference program:

After 9:00 mass (with a bishop!), Janet Smith delivers a plenary address on the Connection between contraception and abortion. She's followed by Christopher Kaczor, whose topic is Humanae Vitae explained and defended. After the lunch break, the final plenary address is Joel Barstad's presentation on Primacy of conscience. (Since many Catholics cite personal conscience as an excuse for using birth control despite Church teaching on the issue, I'm guessing Barstad is going to explain why it's a sin to substitute personal conviction for Church dogma. [But Kevin Keith has a better guess than mine; see the comments.])

If you haven't had enough by this point, just look at dessert. You have three choices for breakout sessions: Choose either Dr. Mary Davenport's Seven myths regarding “reproductive” technology and women's health (held in, of all places, Galileo Hall!), Father Brian Mullady's talk on the Theology of the body (no doubt based on John Paul II's writings on the subject), or Dr. Raymond Dennehy on From contraception to abortion to the death of democracy. (The Catholic Church is understandably really big on democracy and would hate for it to die and be replaced by any kind of autocracy.)

If that's not 4.6 contact hours of continuing education, it's at least an endurance contest. Strangely enough, it's probably the sort of thing I could sit through quite easily (assuming comfortable seats), even though I would undoubtedly have to master occasional impulses to yell “Are you kidding me?” at the speaker. I'm not by nature a disruptive person. (My mildness notwithstanding, I imagine it would incite chaos if I wore a Pharynguloid T-shirt. Are there such things? Just a thought. In any case, it sounds more like a coat-and-tie affair.)

Apparently the California Catholic Women's Forum is the organization that is certified by the California Board of Registered Nursing as a provider of continuing education. CCWF boasts Provider Number CEP 15002 and offers this course description for the Humanae Vitae conference:
Culturally conditioned views of human sexuality influence behavior and subsequent health care outcomes. New and emerging reproductive technologies reframe the connection between intercourse and pregnancy, and affect the marital relationship. This seminar is designed to give nurses the understanding of various views of sexuality and how these views profoundly affect sexual health, marital relationships, and the pursuit or avoidance of fertility.
As someone whose scholarship resides in other fields, I cannot say definitively whether the announced conference schedule is likely to meet these course objectives. I'll admit, though, that I am struck by the phrase “understanding of various views of sexuality.” One can be relatively confident in concluding that the various views will indeed be discussed—and conveniently labeled as right or wrong in terms of their agreement or disagreement with Church teachings. That's just a tiny bit problematical, isn't it?

And yet this somehow cleared the bar established by the California Board of Registered Nursing for acceptable course content. Perhaps it's classified under “Cultural and ethnic diversity,” because I'm pretty sure it's out of the running for “Theoretical content related to scientific knowledge.”

Oh, well, if nurses can get continuing education credit for Therapeutic Touch voodoo, why not for training in Catholic doctrine? One shouldn't discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, disability, age, or wackiness. That would be wrong.


Yoo said...

It sounds like it's mainly teaching "any new view of sexuality that is younger than centuries old is evil". Though I guess it could be used to teach nurses how crazy some Catholic teachers, other nurses, or patients could be.

Kevin T. Keith said...

Primacy of conscience. (Since many Catholics cite personal conscience as an excuse for using birth control despite Church teaching on the issue, I'm guessing Barstad is going to explain why it's a sin to substitute personal conviction for Church dogma.)

I suspect that one's actually aimed at defending the "conscience clause" invoked by intrusive douchebag pharmacists, nurses, and doctors who refuse to provide healthcare to their patients whose healthcare decisions they disagree with. In the minds of people who want to use their religion to run your life, "conscience" has "primacy" over the needs of patients, for healthcare professionals whose "conscience" doesn't recognize patient autonomy.

Unknown said...

This makes me ill, but now I am afraid to go to the doctor.

Zeno said...

You're almost certainly correct, Kevin. I hadn't thought of that angle myself, but it makes sense.

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

Sounds like Kevin nailed it, but just for the record: It is a sin to follow one's own conscience.

I believe the Pharynguloid protocol calls for eight arms in place of the common two tails when the invitation says white tie.

Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more that a conference on Humanae Vitae isn’t an appropriate course for the CA BRN, but I have to ask… why did you single out this particular class? Were there no other ridiculous ways to fulfill the CE requirement? Because it sounds as if you were looking for an excuse to rant about this conference and wanted a rational hook (which as I said above, it is). However, it appears to be the last rational argument in your statement. The rest is simply commonplace anti-religion diatribe written (if you’ll forgive the mixed-communication-method metaphor) only to hear yourself speak and definitely not serving to facilitate dialogue or convince those on the fence that you may have a point (what point? I cannot find your point.). There is a real issue here and you had an opportunity to have a real discussion but instead you made a few snide comments, said basically nothing of substance, and then opened it up to posts that included such inane arguments as (paraphrasing), “Medical professionals who do not provide services that they disagree with or are uncomfortable with are [what was the intellectual term used again, yes it was] douchbags”. What if I am a plastic surgeon who refuses a 16-yr old breast implant patient? No “she isn’t mentally prepared” excuse, I just don’t want to do it. I don’t think it’s a good idea for kids too young to drive to come with airbags. Does that make me a poor healthcare professional as suggested by your rationale (generous here)? Or is it my prerogative to do what I want just like it’s hers to go to another doctor who will perform the surgery? Hmm, freedom and choice. For everyone or just those you agree with? Well, thanks for defending my right to get the pill, Kevin. Maybe next time you’ll even use a legitimate argument to do it. And maybe next time Zeno will stick to a rational discussion. Good luck guys, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to see it.

Zeno said...

Thanks for your comment, Jen, and good luck getting the medical care you need.

Interrobang said...

How you can possibly equate giving a teenager a boob job, which nobody needs, to dispensing medication prescribed by a doctor that will allow a woman to control her own body as she wishes, is beyond me. For what it's worth, I use hormonal birth control, and I've been celibate for years. I use it for medical reasons. Any person who thinks birth control is icky and refuses to dispense my legitimately and lawfully-prescribed medication is automatically sentencing me to severe, incapacitating medical problems. All because they seem to feel that they need to control women's sexuality and punish any use they don't like.

Short answer: If you have religiously-based "moral qualms" about certain medications that prevent you from doing your job, it is not incumbent on the medical system to make room for you, it is up to you to get another job that doesn't conflict with your morality.

I didn't take a job at General Dynamics and then turn around and demand to be excused from the parts of the job that require working with weapons systems on the grounds that I'm a (religious) pacifist -- I decided I couldn't work for General Dynamics because building weapons is unethical. What gives religious people the right to think they can take the job anyway and then just pick and choose parts of their job description as they please? That is the worst sort of asking for preferential treatment. Especially since if I'd done that to General Dynamics, they would have been perfectly within their rights to fire my ass. Which is exactly what should happen to medical professionals who want to exercise their religious privilege and call it "conscience."

William said...

jen: "The rest is simply commonplace anti-religion diatribe"

You say that like it's a bad thing.