In the field of medicine, research has shown that spirituality is perceived and felt to be very important to patients, a topic they want to be asked about and considered as part of the course of their care.
With this knowledge in hand, Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD, the medical school’s assistant dean for Wellness, says clinicians, along with chaplains, have a key role to play.
“We want to get at the core of the issue about how spirituality enlivens the practice of medicine and brings more meaning for both patients and providers,” she said.
For the past two years, Dr. Horneffer-Ginter has been working with the Fetzer Institute to bring about an event – a gathering point – to begin the conversation about the importance of addressing spirituality as a standard part of medical care, as well as pinpointing best practices and the obstacles that stand in the way of whole-person care.
The fruition of that collaboration will come about in October when the medical school and Fetzer host the inaugural WMed-Fetzer Institute Spirituality and Medicine Symposium: Conversations to Inspire and Advance Whole-Person Care.
The symposium will be held online via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, October 7, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CE credit is available and all healthcare providers and community members are welcome
The free event will bring together local voices, including physicians, chaplains, and community religious leaders along with keynote speaker, Farr Curlin, MD, co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke University.
Dr. Curlin will kick the event off with his keynote address, “What Has Religion to Do with the Practice of Medicine?”.
Dr. Horneffer-Ginter said the inaugural symposium will serve as “a conversation starter” in the community about the importance and benefits of the integration of spirituality in medicine. She said the event will be a catalyst for WMed serving as a gathering point for future conversations and collaborations around the topic of that integration across the board for physicians, clergy, nurses, and advance care practitioners, among others.
“This is a rich and complex issue and this symposium will be a chance to take part in an interfaith and interdisciplinary conversation that is respectful and, I hope, genuinely useful,” Dr. Horneffer-Ginter said.
Shakiyla, Smith, EdD, MPH, director of Organizational Culture at Fetzer, has been working closely with Dr. Horneffer-Ginter to make this year’s symposium a reality. She called the inaugural event “a momentous occasion” that will give the community and WMed the opportunity to join “a really critical and important conversation” that is happening around the world in the field of medicine.
“Our mission at Fetzer is to help build the spiritual foundation for a loving world and that’s a big bold mission,” Dr. Smith said. “A big part of our work looks at these two areas of personal spiritual transformation and societal spiritual transformation, connecting the inner life of the mind and spirit with outward action or care in society or the world.
“The care that clinicians or healthcare providers do really speaks to that,” Dr. Smith added. “How are they connected to their inner resources and inner lives, and then able to make those connections with their patients and others they come into contact with and the systems they impact?”
Dr. Smith said the integration of spirituality in medicine is important not only for patients, but for physicians, as well. She said she is hopeful that the symposium and future symposiums will help normalize conversations around the topic and let people know that “it’s OK to talk about spirituality in medicine.”
“We know that the spiritual health of sick people is an important part of their wellness and recovery,” she said. “We also know that burnout is big in the medical field and that’s a topic beginning as soon as medical school and residency. The biggest part of burnout is not just stress or overwork but a loss of meaning or purpose and so it is important to help people in the medical field to remain connected to their wellness and reasons why they got into the field in the first place.”
For more information and to register for this year’s inaugural symposium please visit the WMed CE Portal.
In support of improving patient care, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.
Credit amount subject to change.
Interprofessional Continuing Education
This activity was planned by and for the healthcare team, and learners will receive 6.0 Interprofessional Continuing Education (IPCE) credits for learning and change.
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine designates this activity for 6.0 contact hours for nurses. Nurses should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
This program is co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association for continuing education credit. The American Psychological Association retains responsibility for the program. This activity is designated for 6.0 APA CE Credits.
As a Jointly Accredited Organization, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 6.0 continuing education credits.