2020 Interprofessional Train-the-Trainer Spiritual Care Education Curriculum (ISPEC): July 6-7 | Virtual Program

Empirical evidence, patient and family experience, and theoretical frameworks support the critical role that spirituality and spiritual care plays in patient care, particularly for individuals struggling with chronic and complex illness. Recent clinical guidelines recognize the ethical obligation of all ‎healthcare providers to alleviate pain and suffering--whether physical, psychosocial, or spiritual. Health care providers acknowledge the growing call for patients’ spirituality to be addressed, but they ‎often note lack of training as a significant barrier‎ to implementing these beliefs. 

To bridge this gap, The George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish), in partnership with City of Hope and the Fetzer Institute, developed the Interprofessional Spiritual Care Education Curriculum (ISPEC), a 2-day train-the-trainer program that helps clinicians, spiritual care professionals, and others working in health settings to successfully recognize, address, and attend to the suffering of patients and their families. 

ISPEC fosters environments of care where patients may discover their own capacity for healing and whole health, with an innovative curriculum designed to build leaders, consultants, advocates, and ‎knowledgeable ‎clinicians who can educate, empower, and guide other healthcare professionals at their institution ‎in the ‎integration of spirituality in health. The program emphasizes leadership skills, institutional culture change, and personal goal development for participants.

The first ISPEC, in July 2018, had nearly 100 attendees from across the world. Since then, trainings have been held in the United States, Africa, and Australia. ISPEC is the first initiative at the global level that offers a theoretically and research-grounded curriculum for teaching interprofessional spiritual care. 

Applications close on Monday, 29 June 2020.

Dates & Times

  • July 6-7, 2020 from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm daily, Eastern Standard Time (USA)

Eligibility Criteria

  • Clinicians from diverse professional backgrounds (e.g. MD, RN, NP, PA, Social work, Psychologists, PT/OT), ideally paired with chaplains or spiritual care professionals from the same setting.
  • Chaplains or spiritual care professionals, ideally paired with clinicians from the same setting.
  • Clinician-chaplain teams may come from a variety of different clinical settings, including hospital, hospice, long-term care, outpatient care, etc.
  • Applicants will be selected for this training program through a competitive application review process.
  • Note: We encourage pairs of clinicians and chaplains/spiritual care providers to apply. However, all applicants are welcome.

Course Fees

The fee for the 2020 virtual ISPEC Train-the-Trainer course is $320 USD. Fees are due after applicants have been accepted to participate in ISPEC 2020. Scholarships are available for international applicants--please indicate on your application that you are interested in applying for a scholarship.

Registration Includes:

  • Lectures, case study reviews, discussions, and lab sessions to empower clinicians and chaplains to transform the culture of healthcare in their settings--as well as 400+ pages of electronic course syllabus and resources.
  • Complimentary access to the ISPEC online course for one calendar year.
  • One-year mentorship from leading faculty to monitor and support participants' progress on goal achievement.
  • Continuing education credits:
    • CME Credits - 7.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits(s)TM
    • CEU Credits

Course Modules

The two-day ISPEC Train-the-Trainer program provides lectures, case study reviews, panel discussions, and lab sessions aligned with the following topics:

  • Module 1: Introduction and Background
  • Module 2: Spiritual Distress
  • Module 3: Compassionate Presence
  • Module 4: Communication about Spiritual Issues and Spiritual Assessment
  • Module 5: Whole Person Assessment and Treatment Plan
  • Module 6: Ethics and Professional Development

Course Flyer

View our 2020 virtual ISPEC course flyer here.

Course Leadership

Our 2020 ISPEC faculty facilitators bring a wealth of clinical, educational, and research expertise to the training program.



Christina Puchalski

Dr. Christina M. Puchalski, MD, MS, FACP, FAAHPM
Professor of Medicine and Health Science
Director, GWish 
Co-Director, MFA-GWU Supportive and Palliative Outpatient Clinic
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Betty Ferrell

Dr. Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN
Director and Professor
Division of Nursing Research and Education
Department of Population Sciences
City of Hope



Fr. Richard Bauer, MM, BCC, LCSW
Board Certified Chaplain (BCC), Priest, Social Worker
Fathers and Brothers Marynoll, Africa Region


Benjamin Blatt

Dr. Benjamin Blatt, MD
Professor of Medicine
Medical Director, CLASS Clinical Skills Center
The GW Medical Faculty Associates
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Marvin O Delgado Guay

Dr. Marvin O Delgado Guay, MD, FAAHPM
Associate Professor
Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, & Integrative Medicine, 
Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Trace Haythorn

Dr. Trace Haythorn, PhD
Executive Director, CEO
ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education

Carolyn Jacobs

Dr. Carolyn Jacobs, PhD, MSW
Dean Emerita
Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor Emerita
Smith College School for Social Work

Anna Vandenhoeck

Dr. Anna Vandenhoeck, PhD 
Professor and Chair of the Academic Centre for Practical Theology
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
KU Leuven University


    Monday, July 6, 2020 - 10:00am to Tuesday, July 7, 2020 - 3:00pm



    For inquiries, please contact:
    Cherron Gardner-Thomas
    E: cgthomas2@gwu.edu
    P: +1 202 994 6220

    The George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish)
    2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 300
    Washington, D.C. 20037