spirituality and medicine:
curriculum development project


Preclinical teaching in spirituality


The aim of preclinical teaching about spirituality is to introduce students to the idea that patients are whole people with families, hopes fears, beliefs and values; rather than just clinical problems to be solved. Many medical schools already have courses introducing students to patient contact in the preclinical years, often involving visiting patients in their homes through primary care attachments. Introducing a spiritual element to these sessions would help ensure they give a well-rounded introduction to whole person care.

The aim of this part of the course would be to affect the way in which students think. Rather than teaching them specific information or skills, students should be encouraged to develop a mindset - that humans have a spiritual dimension, groups of beliefs that help them make sense of life and integrate their experiences. Whilst some teaching on different types of worldview and religions would be necessary, this part of the course has much more to do with influencing mindsets than conveying information.


Particular topics may include:

» What is a person?

» Spirituality vs religion

» What are health and healing?

» The doctor’s own spirituality, ethics of sharing this with patients

» Teaching on main religions and worldviews

» Evidence on spirituality, health and healing




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.