Transforming a Pediatric Residency Program with Religio-Cultural Competence

Tanenbaum’s Religious Diversity in Health Care program recently completed a training of the incoming class of pediatric residents at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester.  This full day training was a vital piece of a four year collaboration with Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital meant to infuse religio-cultural competence into the training of the hospital’s pediatric residents. It kicked off a four year scaffolded program, made possible by a grant from the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation.  

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is a state of the art health care facility with a vision for compassionate patient centered care that perfectly connects with Tanenbaum. Their goal is that care be delivered “under a philosophy that acknowledges that families are important participants on the team at the Children's Hospital.  Family-centered care is at the core of [their] mission and all Children's Hospital students, residents and other trainees learn that the active involvement of families in the healing process – whatever the illness – is an important part of helping children recover and stay well.”
 
During the training we covered a number of topics, highlighted some specific areas where religion often comes up in a health care setting and engaged participants in some very interesting discussions. For instance, we asked participants to consider how they would react if a patient asked them to pray with them. What would be an appropriate response to this scenario? What would they do if a patient asked them about their religious beliefs? We reviewed several appropriate responses to these situations and discussed the importance of respecting the religious beliefs of the patient while still maintaining the integrity of their own beliefs.
 
Residents also had the opportunity to practice taking a spiritual assessment and to discuss how to respectfully and sensitively communication with their patients around the topic of religion. We often find that doctors avoid the topic of religion, because of a lack of training on how to take a spiritual assessment and a general discomfort with the subject matter. Finally, we worked with residents to examine how their evaluations of the religiosity of others are shaped by their own “religious lens” and how in a health care setting, that can influence the manner in which they interact with patients. 
 
Thanks to funding from the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, residents also received a copy of our resource The Medical Manual for Religio-Cultural Competence: Caring for Religiously Diverse Populations.  We hope that our book will prove to be a useful resource for residents in their future professional practice. 
 
It was a pleasure meeting and working with the incoming pediatric residents and we look forward to our continuing collaboration with Maria Fareri.