Thank you for the article, “Spiritual care is medicine’s missing element” describing Rev. Dr. Sulmasy’s view of integrating spiritual care.
I would like to address the comment that was made that if a chaplain is visiting a patient, the doctor should come back later. Whew, we need to make some distinctions. Maybe under certain circumstances, this could be the case. However, despite the chaplains’ applause, let’s be real. People are in the hospital for medical treatment, not spiritual solace and problems; doctors are on tight schedules; chaplains are not.
We as chaplains might feel important, and are, but telling a doctor to come back is not only bold, it is rude. I recall on occasion a physician volunteering to come back later, and rarely was this acceptance warranted; usually a minute or two was all that was necessary to finish up the visit, and this can be simply stated to the doctor. Let’s not get inflated egos over these power struggles. Rev. Dr. Sulmasy misspoke in his enthusiasm to support pastoral care of the sick. We don’t need chaplains confronting and turning off doctors if we expect their cooperation. We need to distinguish acute care situations from hospice in this discussion and also include the conversations that take place with family members.
John P. Stangle, NACC Chaplain Advanced Emeritus