The Role of Spirituality in Nursing

This is about helping the readers to understand the role of spirituality when it comes to healing the patients and catering to their spiritual needs. Spirituality in nursing is significant just like compassion when caring.

The essence of nursing profession is the willingness and ability to heal the sick and cater to the needy. Unlike the conventional and commonly perceived, healing is not just confined to physical care such as making sure if the patient has been given his/her medicines on time or if the bed sheets have been done, and the food has been eaten. When a patient is unwell, or is suffering from a terminal illness, he or she goes through a series of trauma which affects the physical, emotional, as well as the spiritual health. Therefore, to be efficient in nursing, one needs to be efficient in identifying and catering to all these needs, especially the spiritual needs, which most of the time, are left unnoticed and unattended.

Define Spirituality

To be clear, spirituality and religion are two different things. One can be spiritual but not religious. On the other hand, religion can give you a way to connect with your spiritual self. So, even though the two terms are different, they can be complementary. Spirituality is your existence on this earth beyond the physical or material aspects; the connection of your inner self with the energy that flows in the universe.

Moreover, spirituality is when you feel that you are not confined to a mere body, but your spirit has a higher purpose on this planet. It helps one focus on his purpose on this planet, shows a hope beyond the sufferings being endured, and ensures an ultimate journey to inner peace and fulfillment.

Spirituality in Nursing Care: Its Significance

When we speak about patients who are dealing with any form of physical or emotional illness, spiritual distress also follows. Therefore, it becomes very important for a nurse to also cater to the spiritual needs of the patient. A nurse is the most appropriate person to do so as he/she is the one that spend most of the time with the patient.

Therefore, during times of spiritual distress, a nurse can comfort the patient by bonding with him/her on a spiritual level. Some decide to look into their angel number to help them find solace in their distress and if you’d like to learn more about angel numbers check out to uncover more. At the same time, the nurse as well goes through the spiritual journey with the patient, as he or she can see what the patient is going through. Doing simple things like listening to what the patient has to say, and conversing and responding with the patient’s needs, acknowledging the patient’s thoughts and ideologies, and making sure to help the patient find peace of mind through your presence, are the things that can be done to uplift the spirit and mitigate the spiritual distress that the patient is suffering from.


Let me give you an example of spiritual nursing care. We all are aware of the fact that when a person is suffering from grief because of the fatal illness that one is dealing with, many patients claim to see a white light. Now, when the patient expresses this experience to others, most of them just listen quietly without any response. However, you need to understand that the patient is in the state of spiritual dilemma and is seeking for a response that clears this confusion. Therefore, fulfilling your duty as a spiritual healer, you are expected to listen and respond to the patient’s spiritual experience. You can ask them questions like, “What could the white light signify?”, or, “Where do you think the light leads one to?” Starting a conversation like this will build a spiritual bonding between the nurse and the patient which can actually help the patient achieve spiritual satisfaction and healing, which is the prime purpose behind the whole concept of catering to the spiritual needs. If there is a place you can take your patient that has wall art and books celebrating spirituality then it can really help them.

Teaching Spirituality in Nursing

“The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest….” ~ William Osler

Indeed, a trained nurse who is efficient enough to provide holistic care to the patient, as well as cater to the spiritual needs, is someone who takes place beside a priest and a physician. In fact, I would say that a nurse is more than that, she is a caretaker, a listener, a comforter, a friend, and a confidante. The woman who laid the foundation of the first secular nursing school in the world, Florence Nightingale, herself embraced the role of spirituality in the nursing profession. However, the point to be noted is that not all nursing professionals come with an inbuilt sense of spirituality and compassion. Therefore, it is of prime importance that spiritual assessment and healing is introduced in the nursing training curricula. Another challenge that this issue faces is when the nurses highlight concerns about their own understanding of religion and spirituality as a subject. Again, as I mentioned earlier, spirituality has got nothing to do with religion, it is a concept beyond religious beliefs which doesn’t require a deity. It just evolves through one’s curiosity related to life, existence, and the connection of the spirit with the higher power, which needn’t be a deity.

Spirituality in nursing is not only a way to identify the patient’s spiritual concerns, but it also gives you an opportunity to identify your own spiritual needs and values. It helps you identify that life is more than what we see, it is beyond the needs of the body, it is beyond the needs of the mind, it is a spiritual experience which makes us what we are. The spirit needs love, the spirit needs attachment, and a sense of belonging; the need of which is the most when one suffers from an illness, especially a fatal one! A nurse is the one who is responsible to take care of these people, to comfort and soothe their troubled spirits and heavy hearts. Small and simple things, like praying with them, holding their hand, listening to their theories, sharing your positive vibes, etc., is all that takes to soothe a heavy heart and a troubled spirit. Do you still think that spiritual caring should be neglected the way it has been so far? To conclude, I would like to use the following prayer to remind you all about the essence of the nursing care that is expected from you, the care which caters to the tangible body as well as the intangible spirit.