Research indicates that many nurses lack formal educational preparation for spiritual care and are hard-pressed to know how to begin building their expertise. One starting point is to conduct a personal spiritual inventory. Examining your belief system, your commitment to spiritual care, your strength for spiritual care, and your needs for further growth is a form of self-assessment that can provide direction, understanding, and inspiration. The following questions can be used to guide the personal spiritual inventory.
Examine Your Belief System
Examine Your Commitment to Spiritual Care in Nursing
- What were the spiritual or religious beliefs within your family of origin?
- What were your early experiences of spirituality and/or religion?
- What religious or spiritual images and stories are meaningful to you?
- How have experiences in nursing challenged or contributed to your spiritual beliefs?
- What experiences in your personal life have served as challenges to your beliefs or as opportunities for spiritual growth?
- What is your spiritual belief system now?
Examine Your Strengths for Spiritual Care
- What motivated you to become a nurse?
- What are some nurse-patient experiences that have been particularly meaningful to you?
- Why is spiritual care important to you?
Examine Your Needs for Further Development in the Role of Spiritual Caregiver
- What spiritual or religious rituals are meaningful to you?
- What unique personal qualities can help you to meet the spiritual needs of patients?
- What is in your life that can serve as a support system for your quest to develop expertise in spiritual care?
- What patient-care experiences have left you feeling uncomfortable or inadequate in the realm of spiritual care?
- What spiritual needs are common in the patients for whom you care?
- How broad is your understanding of different faith traditions?
You may think of additional questions or explorations that will contribute to your own self-understanding. Once the questions have been answered, writing an autobiographical essay based on the information you have uncovered is helpful. This process forces you to reflect further on where you have been and where you are going in your quest to become more competent in spiritual caregiving. The essay is also a good beginning for a journal to track your progress toward this goal.