What’s going on when a GP offers a dose of prayer?

The media have featured angry-with-the-doctor opinion pieces versus angry-with-the-medical-authorities reports about the recent conflab between the General Medical Council (GMC) and Margate General Practitioner Dr. Richard Scott, who talked about Jesus to a patient.

However, it is worth asking, but what does it actually mean to have a physician-patient conversation about faith?

Source: Photostogo / Models used for illustrative purposes only

It is clearly inappropriate for a medical professional to proselytise, especially when people are feeling vulnerable. However, it doesn’t sound like that is what happened. The Sunday Times quotes the doctor as saying: “I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s permission. In our conversation I said that, personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation.” (Prescribing Jesus Gets Doctor Censured – paywall.)

The patient is still with the same doctor – it is his mother who has been offended and submitted a complaint.

Valley Morning Star video (below) filmed at a Texan “family practice residency programme” helps flesh out what it might be like to be “prescribed” a dose of prayer by the family doctor. It articulates the nature of a medical practice which offers “spiritual prescriptions” as well as medical prescriptions as a support to its patients, as Dr. Claudia Aguero-Vazquez puts it.  She continues:

[Patients] find comfort coming here because they know we won’t just address their medical problems, but that we will also actually help to feed their soul…More and more people are looking for God, and they’re looking for something more spiritual, and here we are able to do that, and it is something that people are seeking.

The tendency to detach the addressing of physical needs from questions of spiritual concern is leaving a lot of people on both sides of the physician-patient equation dissatisfied. And while spirituality in healthcare might not be everybody’s cup of tea, thought appears to be pushing at the limitations of materialism, demanding that healthcare make room for a more holistic healing.

The video below comes from a Texan article which deals with similar issues, Spirituality and Health.

“Every step of progress is a step more spiritual.” (Mary Baker Eddy, The People’s Idea of God)

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