has announced a $2.5 million grant from the to launch a program that will examine the role of spirituality in medical practice and education.
Kicking off in May with a spring retreat, the Medicine and Religion Faculty Scholars Program will enroll four junior faculty members each year in a two-year program of learning and research that explores the role religion in a physician's practice. The first class of scholars includes John J. Hardt of , Abraham Nussbaum of the , Aasim Padela of the University of Chicago Medicine, and Michael Balboni of the .
According to a survey of two thousand physicians conducted by University of Chicago Medicine associate professor of medicine Farr Curlin, co-director of the program on medicine and religion at the university, nine out of ten respondents said they have a religious affiliation and more than half agreed with the statement "My religious beliefs influence my practice of medicine."
"The big issue is whether a physicians' religion should be seen as a threat to their medical practice or a resource," said Curlin. "Often religion is construed as a set of personal beliefs and ideas that threatens to prejudice a physician's practices or responses to patients, and interferes with physicians' professional obligations. In contrast, we want to ask how medicine can be construed as a spiritual vocation, as work that has sacred meaning. To think of medicine that way is to look for how physicians might practice medicine in ways that are congruent with and animated by their spiritual beliefs and practices."