Spirituality and Clinical Care: Exploring Developmental Changes In Nursing and Medical Students

M. Kay Sandor, Victor S. Sierpina, Harold V. Vanderpool, Steven V. Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: This study identifies and assesses changes in spiritual experiences and the perceived importance of spiritual issues in nursing and medical students participating in a Spirituality and Clinical Care course. Students participated in the study by completing two survey instruments: the Spiritual Experience Index-Revised (SEI-R) and the Spiritual Importance (SI) scales. Differences from pretest to posttest by sex and by discipline (medicine vs nursing) and changes in spiritual maturity are assessed and analyzed. Results: Data analyses explored discipline differences, sex differences, and changes in levels of spiritual maturity one year after the two-week course. Students (N = 416) participating in the course reflected a significant increase in perceived importance of spirituality in practice, with females of both disciplines showing greater increases than males, and students in nursing showing greater increases than students in medicine. Female students were more trusting than male students in spiritual measures for support. An interesting finding revealed that both male and female students evidenced reduced dogmatic perceptions over time, with medical students declining more sharply than nursing students. Finally, changes in the levels of spiritual maturity of the students were measured. Students in contrasting developmental groups (n = 127) regressed over time to more dogmatic and underdeveloped levels of spiritual maturity. Conclusions: Maintenance or advancement of spiritual development was the expected outcome as students began to develop the art of their practice. It was unexpected that students would regress to a more dogmatic or underdeveloped spiritual level. Several explanations for these findings are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-42
Number of pages6
JournalExplore: The Journal of Science and Healing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Nursing and medical students
  • interdisciplinary spiritual education
  • spiritual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analysis
  • General Nursing
  • Chiropractics
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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