About GWish

GW Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish) was established in May 2001 as a leading organization on education and clinical issues related to spirituality and health. Under the direction of Founder and Director Christina M. Puchalski, MD, professor of Medicine, GWish is changing the face of healthcare through innovative programs for physicians and other members of the multidisciplinary healthcare team, including clergy and chaplains. Dr. Puchalski's pioneering work has had a major impact on medical education, professional education, and clinical programs locally, nationally, and internationally. Download our 2009 tri-fold brochure (PDF).

Spirituality: A Clinical Definition

In 1999, the Association of American Medical Colleges Medical School Objectives Report III (PDF) defined Spirituality as follows:

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 these factors can influence how patients and health care professionals perceive health and illness and how they interact with one another.

Our Mission

GWish is working toward a more compassionate system of healthcare by restoring the heart and humanity of medicine through research, education and policy work focused on bringing increased attention to the spiritual needs of patients, families and healthcare professionals.

Our Vision

GWish wants to influence the healthcare system in the United States by seeking to establish a more compassionate and integrated system of care. Some ways to bring about this change are as follows:

Recognizing the spiritual dimension of health and suffering.

Spirituality is the dimension of a person that seeks to find meaning in his or her life. It is also the quality that supports connection to and relationship with the sacred, as well as with each other. Physicians and healthcare workers need to be aware of the importance of the spiritual needs of those who are ill and suffer. Such awareness will lead to compassionate care.

Educating healthcare professionals about spirituality's critical role.

Patients often suffer deeply in their lives, experiencing suffering that is both difficult to witness and hard to ease. As a result, physicians and healthcare workers often avoid those who suffer because they fear there is "nothing they can do." Addressing the spiritual needs of patients at this time can assist them in their suffering.

Addressing spiritual care needs and offering a compassionate presence to those who suffer deeply.

Spirituality is fundamental to the caring relationship between doctor and patient, and between all healthcare providers and their patients. This is true since medicine has its roots in service, a spiritual value. One of the core values of the profession of medicine, therefore, is the compassionate care of the sick.

Stimulating changes in healthcare on the individual practitioner level and within the field of medicine and society.

GWish aims to educate physicians and other healthcare professionals, students, and patients and their families about the importance of spirituality in healthcare and thus help them to integrate this critical dimension into the healthcare treatment they provide and receive.