Day 127: Spirituality rounds

Today’s inane image of the day:

One of my favorite walls of art in Beaumont Hospital. It always lifts my spirits to walk by this.

Each of us are required to spend 2 hours doing “spirituality rounds” with a chaplain through the PRISM program. I did mine today and thought I’d share my experience with you.

[I believe] the purpose of the rounds is to get a feel for the role of spirituality within the healing process. Spirituality is not synonymous with religious, but religion is a form of spirituality. I personally do not identify myself as religious, but I respect all beliefs and love learning more about various spiritual practices. Furthermore, there is immense value in understanding various beliefs — physicians need to be able to understand their patients.

One of the patients we visited today during rounds described the experience that led him to the hospital as, “like waking up in a nightmare.” I’m not quite sure why those particular words stuck, but they did. He was also the only patient we visited that asked for a prayer. Although I did not actively participate in the ritual, I found his response to it comforting — it seemed that after the words were spoken and the minister had taken his hand off of the patient’s shoulder, that some of the turmoil he was feeling had abated. Even if the prayer wasn’t a form of healing in the literal, physician’s-sense of the term, I do believe that he found those moments therapeutic. Hopefully, he’ll soon be jolted from that prolonged nightmare of his.

Another patient that stuck in my mind was one that couldn’t communicate with us. It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch her struggle to form coherent words while her eyes longed for us to understand the indiscernible moaning and grumbling. As we started walking toward the door, we heard an unmistakable, “I’m sorry.”

Although I was apprehensive to conduct a spirituality assessment on my own, the chaplain encouraged me to try it. I walked into the patient’s room and introduced myself as a medical student conducting spirituality rounds. Then, I asked if the patient had any spiritual needs at that time. He quickly shook his head and refused to converse with me. I pressed on once more before retreating back into the hallway where the chaplain applauded my effort and explained that many patients respond in the same manner.

Overall, I found the experience to be beneficial to my future as a physician. And it definitely didn’t hurt to spend time with patients on the floors.

Today’s medical school fact of the day: “Protein A, found on the surface of most Staphylococcus aureus strains binds to the Fc region of IgGs, preventing antibody-mediated immune clearance of the organism.” –Microbiology lecture notes