A Message from Dr. Puchalski

Spirituality and Health is a relatively new field in medicine and healthcare. However, historically healthcare in the United States was founded on spiritual values - service, altruism, and compassionate care of those in need and those who suffer. Over the last 60 years medicine and healthcare have been challenged by the tremendous explosion of technological advances and by the reality of increasing costs. These challenges have overshadowed the primary mission of medicine and healthcare - to serve the whole person with care and compassion.

Spirituality is recognized as a factor that contributes to health in many persons. The concept of spirituality is found in all cultures and societies. It is expressed in an individual's search for ultimate meaning through participation in religion and/or belief in God, family, naturalism, rationalism, humanism, and the arts. All of these factors can influence how patients and health care professionals perceive health and illness and how they interact with one another. Spirituality is the basis for the deep, caring connections physicians and healthcare professionals form with their patients. While cure may result from technical and disease oriented care, healing occurs within the context of the caring connection patients form with their physicians and healthcare professionals. This is why spirituality is essential to all of medicine and healthcare.

The mission of GWish is to foster more compassionate and caring healthcare systems and restore the heart and humanity to healthcare. We do this by developing education programs supported by scholarly and research-based initiatives which train physicians and other healthcare professionals to more fully integrate spirituality in their professional work with patients. These courses provide the practical skills and tools needed by clinicians to bring spirituality to the bedside. By creating an academic field of study, we strongly believe we are improving clinical care and ultimately improving the lives of patients and their families.

Christina Puchalski, M.D., M.S.