Professional Dissertations DMin

Educating Oncology Nurses On When To Refer Patients For Chaplaincy Services At AnMed Health

Cheryl P. Simmons, Andrews University



At AnMed Health, the chaplain is responsible for providing spiritual care to patients in spiritual distress. The chaplains depend upon nurses to help identify those patients and make the appropriate referral to the spiritual care department. Oncology patients have been increasingly overlooked by not receiving the care of a chaplain, particularly during times when bad news is given. The nurses on the oncology unit are either too busy or untrained to identify patients in spiritual distress.


A pocket guide was developed and presented to the oncology nurses to help educate them on when to call a chaplain. Data was collected five months before the nurses were given in-service training on using the pocket guide. Data was also collected five months after the in-service to determine if the utilization of the chaplaincy service had increase. Thus, a qualitative method was used in order to make a comparison between the data before and after the pocket guide in-service training.


Any chaplain providing spiritual care to a patient on the oncology unit was engaged in the collection of data for comparison. The data showed a very small increase in the utilization of chaplaincy services after the in-service training with the pocket guide. Two additional months were added in which I personally spent more time on the oncology unit interacting with the staff. The data showed a marked increase during those two months.


This study demonstrates that personal collaboration with the nursing staff increased their trust in the services provided by the chaplain. Nurses are more apt to utilize the services of the chaplain when they are aware of the study being conducted and they feel included in the outcome. Additionally, the pocket guide was useful in educating the nurses on when to refer patients for spiritual care by chaplaincy service.