Griffin Hospital is starting a spiritual care training program for its clinical staff this year, thanks to a generous grant from philanthropist Jean Graustein.

The Clinical Pastoral Education for Healthcare program will provide nurses and other health care professionals with clinical and classroom training in how to include spirituality into the care they provide their patients.

“This program will help health care professionals understand how patients’ beliefs and values are integral to the whole person and how they can include their own spirituality in a manner that is helpful in human interaction and relationships,” said the Rev. Jo Clare Wilson, director of Griffin’s Pastoral Care and Education Program.

Wilson hopes the program will serve as a model for other hospitals in the Planetree, Inc. network, of which Griffin is a member. Planetree is an international consumer health care organization dedicated to humanizing health care, including implementation of innovative models of health care that focus on healing and nurturing of body, mind, and spirit.

Though spirituality is increasingly considered part of the healing process and a necessary ingredient in the delivery of excellent care, Wilson said, medical and nursing staff often see it as the exclusive domain of pastoral care, the patient him or herself, or the patient’s own family or personal spiritual leader.

“The Planetree vision for the incorporation of spirituality in care requires that health care providers, not just the chaplains, are knowledgeable about and aware of the spiritual needs of patients and families as central to the healing process,” Wilson said.