Thank you for sharing. You mentioned what I though as well. Puchalski insights are good, but I believe she would do well to have a Chaplain on board.
You raised the possibility of doctors being hesitant about discussing spiritualty because “Is religion an area that is private …” I do a presentation for nursing students a couple times a year and I raise up this issue. My comment is – And asking someone if they have had a bowl movement isn’t personal? I believe that time is an issue, especially with the push to see as many people as possible in a day to boost revenue. But, I believe it may be more that they do not have the knowledge in the area. If they think spirituality is about religion and they do not have one – or they practice differently than their patient – they are uncomfortable talking about it – so the avoid it. Maybe education is need to show them that spirituality is may or may not involve religion. This is what we as Chaplains bring to the table. We can help them understand what it is about.
You ask if “we need to provide them first with a place to talk about their own spirituality?” I say most definitely. I learned this from my CPE training. When we know more about ourselves and become more comfortable with ourselves, the better we are able to be more present to people for whom we care.