The role of spirituality in medical school and psychiatry residency education


  • Sheila LoboPrabhu,

    1. Staff Psychiatrist, Mental Health Care Line and MIRECC, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030, USA and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Baylor College of Medicine, 6655 Travis, Houston, TX 77030, USA
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  • James Lomax

    1. Karl Menninger Chair for Psychiatric Education, Associate Chairman and Director of Educational Programs, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, 6655 Travis, Suite 700, Houston, TX 77030, USA
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The Association of American Medical Colleges recommends addressing and teaching spirituality in the medical curriculum. Stimulated by the competitive awards program of the Templeton Foundation, medical schools and psychiatry residency programs have sought to devise curricula to teach how to take a spiritual history and how to provide spiritually sensitive care. Some of this teaching occurs in a formal learning environment by means of lectures, seminars, and on teaching rounds. However, this form of teaching predominantly affects knowledge about spiritually sensitive care. In order to promote receptive attitudes and to develop clinical skills in learners for incorporating religion and spirituality into patient care, attention needs to be directed on how to influence individualized learning and the “hidden curriculum.” This can be done by experiential learning such as role play, empathy training, observation of role models and participation in chaplaincy rounds. Special clinical environments such as cancer care, geriatric psychiatry, geriatric care clinics or units, palliative care, pediatrics, and substance abuse clinics provide rich environments to learn about spiritual issues in patient care. Use of appropriate tools to measure outcomes can provide an evidence base for determining efficacious teaching about spirituality and religion in patient care. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.