Medical student reflections: Chaplain shadowing as a model for compassionate care training

Mikalyn T. DeFoor, Mary M. Moses, W. Jeffery Flowers, Richard W. Sams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Training of compassionate and empathetic physicians requires commitment by educators to make it a priority. Chaplains typically have time and training to effectively demonstrate compassionate care in the clinical setting. This qualitative study aims to explore perceived benefits among medical students from pastoral care shadowing in integrating compassion and spirituality into education curricula. Methods: Sixty-four written reflections from first- and second-year medical students were collected from December 2018 to January 2020 after shadowing with hospital chaplains. Unprompted reflections were analyzed using coding networks. Results: Four major themes identified included (1) learned values within pastoral care, (2) learned roles of pastoral care in the healthcare setting, (3) practiced spiritual assessment tools and resource identification, and (4) reflected personal impact on future career. Within each major theme, three to four sub-themes were further identified. Conclusions: Reflections support chaplain shadowing as a model for emphasizing spiritual and compassionate care through role-modeling, hands-on learning and reflective practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalMedical teacher
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Integrated
  • communication skills
  • curriculum infrastructure
  • ethics/attitudes
  • mentoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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