Health and Spirituality Topic of Yale School of Medicine Conference

A chance for participants to create a “Milagro” – meaning “miracle” in Spanish – will be among the highlights of a conference on “Health and Spirituality,” being held at the Yale School of Medicine Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24. The event, which is sponsored by the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities and the Program for Humanities in Medicine at the School of Medicine, will be held in the Jane Ellen Hope Building, 315 Cedar St.

The conference is designed to promote understanding about the role of spirituality in the heath-care field – particularly in the areas of the environment, bedside care, healing, health-care education and health-care policy.

In addition to attending presentations and workshops led by health-care professionals, participants will be encouraged to engage in meaningful exchanges with each other about the themes explored in the conference. To promote conversation about these issues, the conference will include an exhibit of artwork and poetry on issues of health and spirituality and another exhibit featuring books on the topic. “[I]t is hoped,” note the organizers of the conference, “that exchange of ideas in these areas will result in a more healthful world, with a more just, compassionate and equitable health care system.”

There will be four main speakers. On Friday, Arthur Frank, a sociologist who has written about the illness experience and clinical ethics, will speak on “Searching for Dr. Schweitzer Today: Spirituality and Healing”; and Dr. William Foege, a professor at Emory University’s School of Public Health, who is known for his work in international health and policy development, will discuss “The Relationship of Health and the Environment.”

On Saturday, Barbara Dossey, a registered nurse who is known for her work in holistic nursing practice and use of alternative therapies in healing, will talk about “Rituals of Healing”; and Dr. Dale A. Matthews, associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University who has done research on the doctor-patient relationship and the psychological and spiritual dimensions of medicine,” will present a talk titled “The Faith Factor: Is Religion Good for Your Health?”

Also on Saturday, artists Melinda M. Bridgman and Ana Flores will lead a session on “Milagros – Images of Healing,” which will examine how milagros have been used since ancient times to petition and/or give thanks for healing. There will be a presentation of milagros created by participants later that day.

Also participating in the conference will be Dr. Howard Spiro, professor and codirector of the Program for Humanities in Medicine, and conference cochair; Rhena Schweitzer Miller, honorary president of the Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities, Harold Robles, president and founder of the Schweitzer Institute; the Reverend Salley Bailey, conference cochair; and Dr. James Kenney, associate dean for postgraduate and continuing education at the School of Medicine.

There is a fee of $85 for the conference, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday. The fee for students is $10. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. For a complete schedule or to register, call (203) 697-2744.

The conference is dedicated to the memory of Dr. David Miller, the son-in-law of Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Like his father-in-law, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his work fighting leprosy and sleeping sickness at a missionary hospital in West Africa, Dr. David Miller undertook many humanitarian projects in developing countries around the world. He was affiliated for many years with the Center for Disease Control and worked at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene.

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