Soon, medical students may learn about patients’ spiritual health

Apart from studying anatomy and medicine, medical students may soon learn about patients’ spiritual health as part of the curriculum.

mumbai Updated: Dec 22, 2010 01:41 IST
Sonal Shukla
Sonal Shukla
Hindustan Times

Apart from studying anatomy and medicine, medical students may soon learn about patients’ spiritual health as part of the curriculum.

The civic body-run KEM Hospital’s Seth GS Medical College is planning to introduce medical humanities as a subject in the five-year MBBS syllabus that will have spiritual health as one of its component.

“We plan to include spiritual health as a component of medical humanities. The objective is to develop skills of compassion, empathy, non-judgmental attitude, motivation and human oriented communication instead of patient oriented approach in medical care,” said Dr RR Shinde, professor and head, department of preventive and social medicine, KEM Hospital.

In the next six months, a syllabus for medical humanities will be prepared, practical sessions will be designed and submitted for approval to the Medical Council of India (MCI), he added.

The move draws inspiration from the definition of health as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to include physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being and not merely absence of disease.

Two months ago, Dr Sanjay Oak, dean, KEM Hospital, took up an initiative to promote humanitarian values among medical students to make them socially-oriented practitioners. It proposed to introduce medical students to different art forms such as music, dance, film appreciation and literature reviews to make them sensitive to patients’ needs and have a holistic understanding in treating them. The next step is to include spiritual health as one of the components of medical humanities.

“MCI delegates are coming to the hospital in January and we will put our recommendations before them,” said Dr Oak. “I think as doctors when we perform a surgery, there is something supernatural which cannot be seen or felt, but it definitely exists, and makes the difference between success and failure,” he added.

Doctors feel that linking humanities and spiritual health with medical education could establish a human bonding between patients and doctors. It could also help doctors in reducing their stress levels. “In medical education, we are taught so much about science, that after a point doctors start seeing patients as an object requiring a particular diagnosis or treatment. Understanding of medical humanities as well as spirituality will surely enhance the human approach in them,” said Dr Bipin Doshi, head of department of Jainism, Mumbai University.

Doctors feel that the course improve communication between doctors and patients.

According to academicians, WHO has recognised the significance of the spiritual component of health. However, scientific research on the subject is in a premature stage. The influence and impact of spiritual health strategies are yet to be validated.

First Published: Dec 22, 2010 01:40 IST