Medicine, Spirituality, and the Med Student: How a Spiritual Outlook Can Support Mental Wellness in Medical School
Medicine and religion have a shared history. In many ancient cultures, the leading religious figure was also the man of medicine. As medicine began to evolve into more of a science, the two fields became more disparate. More recently, however, religion has begun to converge with medicine once again through strengthening the focus on spirituality in medicine.
Providing care for patients more often than not requires treating more than the medical problem. Many medical schools now teach using a bio-psycho-social model, recognizing how one aspect can influence the other. The spiritual component can be seen as a subset of the model or perhaps a separate dimension on its own. Spirituality does not equate to religion. The former is more individualized and can even be at odds with one’s religion or lack thereof.
Strength and faith are the words that come to mind as I reflect on the labor of Ms. TF and the delivery of her baby boy. It is such an amazing experience to see a child come into the world. It is an even greater experience when you know the child belongs to a family that has such strong values that it emanates as you enter their room. Values similar to that of my own. The family, and their presence assured me that the new child entering the world would be greatly loved – a family that reminded me of my own. The laboring mother was accompanied by her husband, mother, grandmother, sister, aunts, and a few friends. A small radio in the corner of the room played a collection of songs praising God’s greatness, mercy, and power. I was touched by the music as the message in the songs ministered to my personal needs as well. As labor progressed, the faces of the family members showed concern and anguish.