Reinvigorating the Role of Spirituality in Patient-Centered Care: Islam as a doorway to increased understanding of patient spirituality

Paul Bennett, Abu Bakr Sirajuddin Cook, Najeebullah Soomro

Spirituality is seen to be an important aspect of patient-centered practice. However, heavy focus on the scientific and technical aspects in modern clinical teaching misses key elements of holistic patient-centered care. Incorporating spirituality in the provision of healthcare may foster better communication, respect, and empathy. This article focuses on a series of interprofessional education sessions directed at undergraduate health students that have become a regular part of the Broken Hill Rural Clinical School undergraduate training programme. The sessions promote an increased understanding of world faiths to improve the patient-centered focus of healthcare. The authors discuss and outline the findings from interactive interprofessional education sessions focused on the Islamic faith, conducted in a regional city of New South Wales, Australia.  A voluntary self-reporting survey was used to gain an understanding of participant reflections and perceptions. Students from a range of health disciplines – medicine, nursing, speech pathology, dietetics, and pharmacy – attended three separate education sessions focused on Islam. Students indicated that the interprofessional learning (IPL) sessions enhanced their understanding of Islam along with the confidence and readiness to ask questions about the spiritual needs of patients and families. Students indicated the activity was beneficial, both personally and professionally. They also voiced their willingness to attend similar sessions on other world’s faiths. Students who have attended these sessions have articulated their intention to be more aware of the spiritual needs of their patients and to make changes to their practice when engaged in future health activities.

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