The Integration of the “Spirituality in Medicine” Curriculum Into the Osteopathic Communication Curriculum at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

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Academic Medicine


With grant funding from the John Templeton Spirituality and Medicine Curricular Award to the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, faculty at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCUMB) developed the "Spirituality in Medicine" curriculum. In developing the curriculum, faculty took into consideration competencies required by the Association of American Medical Colleges and qualitative results from surveys of medical school applicants and enrolled students. Strategies for curriculum delivery included lectures, panel discussions, role-playing, and training in the use of a spirituality assessment tool. A majority of the 250 students who received the training in 2010-2011 were able to demonstrate the following competencies: (1) being sensitive to patients' spiritual and cultural needs, (2) assessing patients' and their own spiritual needs, (3) appropriately using chaplain services for patient care, and (4) understanding the effects of health disparities and ethical issues on patient care. Challenges to implementation included a reduction in chaplain availability due to the economic downturn, a lack of student exposure to direct patient care during shadowing, too little religious diversity among chaplains, and changes in assignment schedules. New competencies required by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners overlap with and help ensure sustainability of the Spirituality in Medicine curriculum. KCUMB leaders have incorporated the use of the spirituality assessment tool into other parts of the curriculum and into service experiences, and they have introduced a new elective in palliative care. Synergistic efforts by faculty leaders for this initiative were critical to the implementation of this curriculum.



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