For hundreds of years, spirituality and religion played significant roles in medicine. Indeed, the church originally issued medical licenses to physicians, many of whom were monks or priests. The first hospitals were built by built by religious groups. But, with the advances in medicine and technology, religion and spirituality existed only on the periphery of medical practice.
In the last decades of the 20th century, the pendulum began to slowly swing back. Research in the field showed that not only were spirituality and religious beliefs important parts of many people’s lives, but they also had an impact on a person’s physical and mental health. “Medicine is inherently an emotional, psychological and existential experience,” said Horace DeLisser, MD, of Medicine. “Spirituality is a part of people’s identify. Understanding these beliefs helps to better care for patients and form relationships.”
A new Certificate in Spirituality and Health at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine will teach students how to incorporate spirituality into their medical practice – and feel comfortable in that role.