How Spirituality and Medicine Can Improve Lives

22 September 2022

How Spirituality and Medicine Can Improve Lives - small

Advancements in science and technology have allowed us to take a cure-oriented approach to healthcare and have given us the ability to prolong life. However, the physical body is not the only concern when it comes to health and wellness.

The spiritual aspect of medicine has long been taken for granted. But the truth is that it has always been an important element in a person’s overall health and has the potential to improve their quality of life significantly. 

Explore the indelible connection between religion – a spiritual entity – and health here.

The Role of Religion and Health in Wellbeing

Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind, and spirit. – B.K.S Iyengar.

Healthcare is a largely structured industry, where professionals take specific steps to help patients. You begin with history and symptoms, current medications, bloodwork, and labs, then delve deep into the root cause of their symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis. Then, you take more structured steps to treat the disease. 

But if your patient is facing a terminal diagnosis or dealing with an incurable illness, how do you approach their well-being? 

Patient desire for spiritual interaction increases with the increasing severity of illness. Physicians face spiritual questions as their patients’ health takes a turn for the worse. From questions about God to contemplating their impact on others’ lives, end-of-life patients need answers and reassurances. 

As a medical professional, it is your duty to ensure your patient’s overall health. Physicians must, thus, be firm advocates of the power of healing through words, actions, and even presence. It may help make the journey from life to death easier. 

Of late, spirituality has become something of a prerequisite in medical school curriculums and end-of-life care. The role religion plays in our well-being is of such importance that the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) enlists being “altruistic” as one of the critical attributes of physicians. It claims: 

“Physicians must be compassionate and empathic in caring for patients.… In all of their interactions with patients, they must seek to understand the meaning of the patients’ stories in the context of the patients’ beliefs and family and cultural values.”

Treating the whole patient – and not just their illness – has always been the ultimate goal of healthcare. For example, physicians treat cancer patients by combining medical analysis with their patient’s emotional and spiritual health. 

These elements can help healthcare professionals provide targeted, quality, compassionate care while staying true to the patients’ spirituality and beliefs.  

The Benefits of Adopting Spiritual and Medicine Healthcare

Research in this area is fairly limited, but so far, it has shown that:

  • Patients regularly immersed in spiritual practices may have a better hold on their stress levels, which can help them live longer.
  • Spiritual patients have a more positive outlook toward their current condition than those who don’t. They also have less fear of death, which allows them to enjoy a better quality of life than others. 

For patients, incorporating spirituality into their life can act as a source of comfort to them, even at times when hope seems scarce. 

For physicians, considering spiritualism as part of the patient’s medical journey can help them understand the suffering of their patients. It is particularly important for those suffering from chronic illnesses or losing a loved one. 

This open-mindedness can also help physicians create a therapeutic plan that integrates their patients’ suffering, hopes, and beliefs to help them find purpose and meaning in their life, which can improve their well-being. 

Being sensitive and open to a patient’s belief system can also strengthen trust in healthcare providers. So when the religious convictions of patients or their family members begin to affect their decision-making, physicians well-versed in spirituality can help them make the right decision without offending their belief system. 

Physicians can also enlist the help of local religious communities to reframe their patient’s thinking while giving them the space to explore their spirituality.   

Alternatively, they can take the path less traveled and become their patient’s advocate by exploring their own spirituality. This journey will be unique to every physician, as it depends on what faith and beliefs they follow. 

One can explore different ways to check in with their spiritual self and take proactive steps to become the voice of reason and faith. This will help physicians become exactly what their patients need in the hours that spell the end to their life or the opening of a new chapter with the absence of their loved ones. 

If you’re a practicing Muslim or a firm believer of Islam, you can refresh your spiritual beliefs in an upcoming event:

Give Yourself a Spiritual Cleanse by Performing Umrah Through IMANA

IMANA (Islamic Medical Association of North America)’s Umrah 2022 celebration will be from November 19 to 26. Pilgrims who want to participate in this spiritual journey can register today. The package includes hotel accommodation, ground transport, lectures and tours, visa fees and processing, and Saudi Arabian health insurance.

If you have any questions, contact us at [email protected]