Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Thomas Fish, Kathleen Boyle, John Reiling


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experience of multidisciplinary healthcare leaders in creating a culture that meets hospitalized patients’ spiritual needs. My major research questions were: 1) Does the spiritual experience of hospital/health system leaders affect an organization’s ability to meet hospitalized patients’ spiritual needs? 2) Does the spiritual training of multidisciplinary leaders affect an organization’s culture? 3) Does the spiritual training of various levels of leaders affect an organization’s culture? 4) Does an organization’s culture impact its capacity to meet hospitalized patients’ spiritual needs? I gathered information from in-depth interviews of 22 current and former healthcare leaders from multiple levels with direct and non-direct care responsibilities at one secular hospital/health system, and two hospitals within one non-secular health system. Participants had received RISEN program spiritual education/training. In the course of the study, themes emerged that gave meaning to the collective healthcare leader experiences. Overall, few differences were noted between secular and non-secular leaders. Spiritual embodiment by top leaders is essential, while other leaders emulate the top leader. Spiritual beliefs and values are intentionally embedded in cultures through intentional presence, aligned structures and systems of accountability. All healthcare members contribute to spirituality for patients in meaningful ways, with pastoral care professionals and nurses have the most direct effect. Engaging physicians has unique considerations. Intentionally investing in the spiritual development of individuals positively impacts the culture. An intentional approach to educating staff is necessary. The result is that health system leader’s experiences influence meeting patients’ spiritual needs.


spiritual needs, health system leaders, patients needs, RISEN program

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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