Interprofessional Spiritual Care Education Curriculum (ISPEC)

Empirical evidence, patient and family experience, and theoretical frameworks support the critical role spirituality and spiritual care plays in the care of patients, particularly those 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 momentum calling for patients’ spirituality to be addressed, but they ‎often note lack of training as an important 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 an Interprofessional Spiritual care training program entitled "Interprofessional Spiritual Care Education Curriculum (ISPEC)".

ISPEC is the first curriculum at the global level that offers a theoretically and research-grounded curriculum for teaching interprofessional spiritual care. This innovative training program builds on the investigators’ previous experience in developing the GWish Templeton Reflection Rounds, ELNEC Project, and online training programs. Curricular development forms the ‎basis of a train-the-trainer  program to build leaders, consultants, advocates, and ‎knowledgeable ‎clinicians who can educate, empower, and guide other healthcare professionals at their institute ‎in the ‎integration of spirituality in healthcare.‎ The ISPEC curriculum appropriate for interprofessional pairs of clinicians (e.g. physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other professions) and chaplains, and will prepare them to attend to patients’ spiritual needs and resources as an integral part of their practice. 

Co-Directors: Christina Puchalski, MD, FACP, FAAHPM & Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, FAAN, FPCN

Faculty Members:

  • Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School
  • Rev. Richard W. Bauer, MM, BCC, LCSW, Eastern Deanery AIDS Relief Program, Nairobi
  • Marvin Delgado, MD, The University of texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Rev. Kathleen Ennis-Durstine. Manager of Pastoral Care at Children's National Health System
  • Noreen Chan, MD, FAMS, National University Cancer Institute (NCIS), Singapore
  • Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, FAAN, FPCN, City of Hope National Medical Center
  • Paul Galchutt, MDiv, BCC, University of Minnesota
  • Trace Haythorn, PhD, The Assosciation for Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Carolyn Jacobs, M.S.W., Ph.D. Smith College School for Social Work
  • Najmeh Jafari, MD, MPH, George University's Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish)
  • Christina Puchalski, MD, FACP, FAAHP, George University's Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish)
  • Anne Vandenhoeck, PhD, Ke Leuven University, Belgium 
  • Elisha Waldman, MD, Ann and Robert H. Luries Children's Hospital, Chicago. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Clinicians from different professions (Medicine, Nursing, Social work, Psychology, Physical therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, etc.) who work with patients with chronic and serious diseases are eligible to apply.
  • Each organization’s team should include one clinician and one chaplain.
  • Pairs of clinicians/ chaplains from Pediatrics and Geriatrics departments are also welcome to apply.  

 Participants will be selected through a highly competitive application review process. For more information about the future ISPEC Courses and application process, please contact Dr. Najmeh Jafari at

The Next ISPEC Train-the-Trainer program will be held on July 9-11, 2019 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Apply Now button



Past ISPEC Training programs:

 The First Train-the Trainer ISPEC training was held on July 10-12 in Washington, DC. More than 100 participanst from healthcare organizatoons in 23 different US states, 1 US territory, and 12 different countries attended the launch of ISPEC training program.  

                                                                                                                                                       The First ISPEC Train-the-Trainer Program, Washington, DC