Patient-Centered Care – Incorporating Spirituality Is Good for Patient AND Physician

Physicians are often invited into the most imitate moments of their patients’ lives. Moments that ask for more than a scientific diagnosis. At those times, the patients need to draw on their physical strength, intellectual capacity but also need to find spiritual strength to see it through their illness or disability.
Yet physicians often are reluctant to address the spiritual side of healing. Not because they themselves don’t believe in its power but because they are unsure on how to incorporate spirituality into their patient care.
In addition to questions about “how to”, there are doubts about the extra time this would take. Given the huge demands on physicians today, it’s no wonder that they often feel that they need to pass this aspect of health care off to a professional.
This article is about proposing a few ways that makes this task less “daunting” and hopefully even convince some physicians of the multiple benefits to the physician him/herself and their patients.
More than ever physicians today are under tremendous stress from outside influences.
Physicians often feel that they have no control over their lives at work. That causes more and more doctors to burn out, want to quit their jobs or emotionally disengage from their work. When that happens, work becomes just a way to make a living and ceases to make a life! Learning to bear witness to their patients’ search for meaning and purpose, and by simply acknowledging this difficult quest, allows doctors to provide their patients with tremendous inner strength and a huge opportunity to grow.
Here is an Premier Health Doctors example:
A patient comes in with progressing arthritis that consequently impairs his ability to play golf. He is frustrated and angry. He is angry at God, angry at the world. Even though his doctor provides all the right medication, there is no doubt that the arthritis will progress.
Occupational therapy is prescribed but in that moment between the patient and the doctor there is an opportunity for special closeness, a bonding moment that no other provider can fill.
Despite the physician’s time constraints he realizes how painful it would be to lose his own ability to de-stress on the golf course. He decides to be there for his patient as he tries to find the strength to create new meaning in his life. He asks about the core joys the patient experiences while playing golf and finds out that it’s the outdoors, the beauty of wide openness and the companionship with other like-minded people.
They both just sit for a moment sharing this common bond. The physician can see that the time and space provided for sharing alone, without any advice or attempt to “fix” the issue at hand, holds much meaning for the patient. In that moment, they both feel understood and cared for.
Time loses its stronghold for just a few precious moments even though in reality, this has only taken a minute or so.
The physician then encourages the patients to create a list of possible new activities that would provide the underlying joys of golf but are less taxing on the arthritic hands of his patient.
The patient leaves, feeling strengthened by the bond and inspired by the question. He promises to bring his list to the next Military Diet Meal Plan visit. The physician in turn feels renewed, inspired by the strength of his patient and grateful for his own health.