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The Role of Spirituality in Medical Education

Healing and Autonomy

Spirituality practice in healthcare has been a controversial topic over the last decade. Spirituality and health are increasingly becoming a topic of discussion in healthcare and medical schools and provide more insight into combining them. More healthcare facilities offer spiritual support to patients as an extension of compassion and comfort to their clients. Healthcare sectors allow social and religious support to their patients while also providing a medical perspective. Medical ethics in healthcare practitioners aim to save lives and improve patients’ quality of life; the code of ethics guides healthcare professionals on managing patients. The primary requirements needed are knowledge of all viable options, risks, and consequences of each option, and informed insight to choose the best option.

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Patient’s Autonomy in Spiritual Needs

Principles of medical ethics state that patient autonomy allows patients to accept or decline the recommended treatment. Medical practitioners, such as nurses, doctors, caregivers, or physicians, must guide patients on the best options while allowing patient autonomy. The focus of patient autonomy calls for informed consent of patients before any treatment. The attending physician’s role in Mike’s case is to provide patient autonomy and respect, in line with medical ethics (Tilburt et al., 2020). Medical ethics also state that medical practitioners should not intentionally cause or harm the patient in the principle of nonmaleficence, either through commission or through omission.

Parents need to make an informed decision for their children until they grow up; James’ parents ignored the physicians’ recommendations and chose to place his faith in God. Under James’ health situation and the physician’s knowledge of possible health consequences, it was medically unethical to allow Mike and Joanne to seek other alternatives such as healing services. The physician should have clearly elaborated the risks of acute glomerulonephritis on James’ health and why dialysis is the preferable option while respectably conducting his medical responsibilities. Medical professionals must improve patients’ health situations irrespective of the circumstances and provide professional opinion and treatment options. In James’ case, dialysis would have been a superior option, and a kidney transplant would have been evitable and prevented current medical challenges.

Honoring the Principles of Beneficence and Nonmaleficence

Christian’s perception of sickness and health should be viewed as a test of faith during disease. Suffering has been mentioned repeatedly in the Bible to signify that Christians should cement and strengthen their relationship with God through suffering. Christian’s understanding of sickness and health is viewed as a gift, promoting peace for human continuity. In medical interventions, Christians need to differentiate between science and religion without disregarding the latter (Nahardani et al., 2019). God created humans and provided people with the intellectual capability to solve medical challenges and discover a cure for known diseases. Medical interventions and spirituality need to coexist when treating sickness by letting medical professionals perform their duty of saving lives and improving individuals’ overall health while still relying on prayers and fasting to heal.

In this case study, it is the reliance on Christ, even when facing the reality of illness and death. In this case, Mike, as a Christian, should learn how to place his faith in medical professionals and God without losing hope. Diseases destroy the illusion and confidence that Christians are in control, lowering the faith of spiritual people. Christians should learn how to live out of control. Mike should continue trusting and having faith in God and medicine that his son will be healed. James’ father is a staunch Christian who believes in God; he should trust God to provide the necessary solutions to heal his son, James. Mike should critically analyze the information provided to him by the physician and understand the consequences of denying treatment to his son. James’ parents should consider that medical personnel could alleviate his son James’s health to a better state and prevent future health deterioration.

Healing service is an act of faith that has not been scientifically proven. In ethics, beneficence principles describe the balance between benefits and risks of accepting or declining treatment, whereas nonmaleficence expounds on avoiding harm to people. Mike can place the same faith into the medical intervention suggested by the physician to improve James’s health while also practicing prayer and trusting God for healing. In this case, temporary dialysis would have significantly enhanced James’ health and prevented advanced damage to his health. The delay of treatment caused further harm to James’ and Samuels’ health, which went against the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence.

Spiritual Needs Assessment

Kidney transplant incurred further financial costs on the family due to the father’s negligence and poor decision-making skills. Mike should have consulted the family and James on how to proceed before exploring the faith healing service. The success of dialysis would have improved his son’s health instead of one friend regaining mobility after suffering a stroke. However, a kidney transplant is a tried and tested method that can be used to improve James’ deteriorated life through a kidney transplant donated by Samuel. Recently, physicians have assessed the spiritual needs to determine an appropriate intervention for James and his family (Austin et al., 2017). Spirituality plays an impactful role in a patient’s decision-making process and a coping mechanism when selecting the various medical interventions suggested by physicians. Engaging in Mike’s religious beliefs, the physician would have understood their belief system, anticipated the reaction, and provided spiritual support to patients to extend compassion and comfort.

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In conclusion, healing and autonomy require an in-depth understanding of patients’ spiritual needs and medical professionals. The physician believed that James needed urgent medical attention before his condition worsened. Mike thought that his son’s condition would improve through prayer and faith, and the consequences would be avoidable. On the one hand, Christianity and science are a controversial topic that needs to be addressed in medical schools to deal with patients and their beliefs. On the other hand, Christians should practice their faith and seek medical intervention while still praying.


Austin, P., Macleod, R., Siddall, P., McSherry, W., & Egan, R. (2017). Spiritual care training is needed for clinical and non-clinical staff to manage patients’ spiritual needs. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 7(1), 50-63. Web.

Nahardani, S. Z., Ahmadi, F., Bigdeli, S., & Arabshahi, K. S. (2019). Spirituality in medical education: A concept analysis. Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy, 22(2), 179-189. Web.

Tilburt, J., Pacyna, J., & Rusthoven, J. (2020). Christian integrity regained: Reformational worldview engagement for everyday medical practice. Christian bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality, 26(2), 163-176. Web.

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