Is medicine a spiritual practice?

Acad Med. 1999 Sep;74(9):1002-5. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199909000-00012.


Spirituality and medicine have a long history in common. For much of that history for many persons and cultures today, the rupture between medicine and spirituality that characterizes Western medicine at the brink of the 21st century is a distinct anomaly. Spirituality is defined by a person's relationship with the transcendent. Only persons are capable of such relationships. The transcendent can be experienced in and through the practice of medicine, which essentially involves personal relationships with patients and always raises transcendent questions for patients and practitioners. Physicians who wish to deepen their own spiritual lives can begin to do so by intensifying their personal commitments to their own spiritual beliefs and practices, and by beginning to talk with each other about spiritual issues that arise in the practice of medicine. This will better prepare them to meet the spiritual needs of their patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Mental Healing*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United States