Submission Type

Application of Best Practices


Problem Statement: As health care providers and organizations have become complex and specialized, efforts to address the spiritual needs of patients and care team members are often absent.

Background: Medical advances, life-saving treatments, and increased efficiency of patient care have all come at a cost to patients and health care providers. We appropriately measure our care team’s performance with disease- and procedure-specific data on morbidity and mortality. However, these measurements come at the risk of rewriting Hippocrates’ endeavor from “cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always” to “cure always.” The suggestion that failure is not an option is an unattainable expectation with a high price, namely the spiritual distress of care team members, patients, and their families. In 2018, The Joint Commission addressed the issue of unmet spiritual needs, stating that these needs can be associated with greater emotional distress, pain, and anxiety; higher medical care costs; and poorer quality of life.

Application: In 2015, the cardiovascular service line at an academic medical center implemented a spiritual care provider position to address the unmet spiritual needs of patients and care team staff. In this article, we describe (1) the evolution of the spiritual care provider’s role and (2) the impact of this resource on the healing of patients and as a support for the personal and professional well-being of health care providers.



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