As an ordained chaplain at Cincinnati Children’s, I provide spiritual care and support to children who need inpatient rehabilitation care. I’m also the senior director of the Department of Pastoral Care and an associate professor in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics.
I was drawn to this field because I wanted to be a resource for patients and families struggling with their health. Many people who have religious or spiritual beliefs and practices haven't considered how they would apply them in different situations. And in times of stress or uncertainty, some people have spiritual struggles — they find that instead of helping them get through a crisis, their spiritual beliefs and practices cause more angst. This is often because the Sacred, or other people in their faith communities, are not responding as they expected. To that end, I help people think about how their faith can be of most help to them while coping with their diagnosis, treatments and decisions about their care.
I became interested in researching the role of religion and spirituality in healthcare after making several observations. First, I noticed that adolescents and young adults undergoing bone marrow transplantation were using faith differently than we expected. Secondly, I saw that parents of children with cystic fibrosis were using faith to make medical decisions. Finally, I realized chaplaincy education was not directed toward helping chaplains understand the different ways patients use faith systems in the context of healthcare.
My research activities focus on chaplaincy interventions, such as assisting patients with accessing their spiritual resources and helping interdisciplinary teams integrate patients' relevant religion or spirituality into their treatment plans. I also study how best to measure chaplaincy effectiveness.
In May 2015, I was honored to receive the 2nd annual Critical Thinking in Research and Innovation Award at the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.