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Spirituality Expert to Speak at WesternU

by Rodney Tanaka

August 19, 1999

Read 2 mins

Spirituality may seem like the opposite of science, but physicians are

beginning to take note of studies linking that intangible element with

their patients’ good health. The public can learn more about the subject

on Thursday, September 2, when Christina M. Puchalski, MD, addresses the

issue during lectures at Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU)

in Pomona and Borders bookstore in Montclair.

Dr. Puchalski’s first discussion is entitled “”The Role of Spirituality in

End of Life Care: A Time to Listen and Care.”” It will take place at noon

in Prem Reddy Hall in the Health Professions Center on the WesternU

campus, 309 E. Second St., and is free and open to the public.

“”The idea of addressing spirituality when treating patients fits well with

WesternU’s humanistic emphasis and with the osteopathic approach of total

patient care,”” said Mitchell Kasovac, DO, dean of WesternU’s College of

Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. “”Spirituality is an important part of

the healing process, and an important part in the development of any

health care professional.””

Considered a national expert on the topic, Dr. Puchalski is an assistant

professor in the department of health care science and medicine at George

Washington University’s School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She is also

the director of clinical research and education at that school’s Center to

Improve Care of the Dying. She serves as director of education for the

National Institute of Healthcare Research, and has been featured on ABC

World News Tonight and in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The

Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Puchalski said that an increasing amount of data shows a correlation

between spirituality and health.

“”Patients are getting more and more dissatisfied with managed care and the

inability to have personal relationships with their doctors, and they are

demanding that physicians spend more time with them focusing on more

aspects than just the physical,”” she said. “”I’m pleased to speak at

WesternU because it’s an osteopathic school, and their philosophy of a

holistic care approach is right in line with these ideas.””

According to an article published April 12 by American Medical News (“”What

is the role of spirituality in medicine?”” by Mark Moran), an increasing

number of doctors believe they have a duty to address their patients’

spiritual lives as well as their physical ailments. The article states

that more than 50 U.S. medical schools offer elective courses in


WesternU’s Dr. Kasovac agrees that the issue is gaining publicity in the

medical field.

“”I think the medical profession is finally giving spirituality its due

recognition,”” he said. “”It makes a lot of sense; it’s an important aspect

of the human race and we need to embrace it as caregivers.””

After her appearance at WesternU, Dr. Puchalski will lead another

discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 2, at Border’s bookstore in

Montclair. The theme of that presentation will be “”Integrating

Spirituality into Healthcare.””

A Southern California native, Dr. Puchalski grew up in Los Angeles,

attended Immaculate Heart High School in Hollywood and Pomona College in

Claremont, and earned a bachelor’s and masters degree from UCLA.


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