spirituality and medicine:
curriculum development project

Can faith groups teach spirituality to medical students?


Many aspects of spiritual care provision need to be taught from an academic, neutral standpoint - for instance, how to take a spiritual history, or the ethics of providing spiritual care. But so much of the challenge of teaching spirituality is helping students to understand the backgrounds of the different types of patient they will meet - understanding why they think as they do, and what effect this will have on their experience of illness.

Who better to teach Islamic views on suffering than a practising Muslim? Who better to explain the struggles and reassurance of the Christian faith during illness than a Christian suffering from a serious illness? Many religious groups would be only too willing to provide speakers for such courses, and the experience such contact would give to students may prove very valuable in preparing them to meet such people as patients.

The idea is not new. Several medical schools already run SSCs in 'Christian Medical Ethics', in collaboration with the Christian Medical Fellowship, a national group of Christian doctors. These courses have proved popular with both Christian and non-Christian students who have a particular interest in issues suroounding the interface between religious faith and medicine.

Since medical schools already offer such a wide range of SSC courses, the idea of having academically rigorous and ethically responsible courses run by faith organisations would be a positive step in giving students the chance to learn more. These could even be run as distance learning courses to enable students from many schools to benefit from the opportunity to study such subjects.



The Spirituality and Medicine Curriculum Development Project is funded by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.