While Western medicine has become better at diagnosing, treating and even curing disease, its counterparts in other traditions often still outpace it in treating the whole patient.
In other words, the consideration of a patient’s mental, emotional and spiritual health can play a huge role in a successful treatment plan.
One of the pioneers in the movement to integrate spirituality into healthcare is Doctor Christina Puchalski. She’s the founder and director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
She’s board certified in internal medicine and palliative care, but also has a degree in social work.
"Unless we value the relationship between the physician and the patient, the nurse and the patient – unless we say that is of number one importance and we’re going to invest in that, we’re just going to keep going downhill, we’re going to get patients who haven’t had their needs met, and worse, our patient suffering will not be attended to," Puchalski says.
Puchalski spoke with Bonnie North while she was in Milwaukee to give the Medical Humanities Lecture at the Medical College of Wisconsin.