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Public Profile

Christina Puchalski, MD
Christina Puchalski, MD
    Dr. Puchalski is an associate professor in the departments of medicine and health care sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine. She is also the founder and director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish), a center that develops educational, clinical, and research programs for physicians and other healthcare professionals regarding the role of spirituality and health in medicine. Her goal is to help foster compassionate systems of care for patients and their families.

    Dr. Puchalski completed a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and a Master's degree in Biology at UCLA, and a medical degree at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Prior to medical school, she worked as an adjunct scientist in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Puchalski is a recipient of the 1996 John Templeton Foundation Spirituality and Medicine Curricular Award for a course in spirituality and medicine that she is teaching at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Her research interests and expertise include: the role of spirituality in healthcare, especially regarding end of life; issues pertaining to end-of-life care; the role of clergy in health and in end-of-life care; and evaluation of education programs in spirituality and medicine. Her publications range from basic research in biochemistry to issues in spirituality and healthcare.

    Dr. Puchalski is co-chair for the fifth consecutive year of a national education conference sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Dr. Puchalski has also chaired a task force with the AAMC on developing guidelines for teaching spirituality, end-of-life, and cultural issues in medical education. Dr. Puchalski has been an associate course director for Harvard Medical School and the Mind/Body Medical Institute's annual Spirituality & Healing in Medicine conference for two consecutive years. Additionally, she is co-convener of the spirituality task force for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Last Acts Campaign.

    Dr. Puchalski has given numerous presentations at medical schools and national conferences on spirituality and healthcare, on end-of-life care, assessment of patients' spirituality, and curricular development of spirituality and medicine courses. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, and has been published widely in major newspapers across the country, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Washington Times. She is the recipient of the AAMC and Pfizer's 1999 Award for The Medical Humanities Initiative and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey's Faculty Humanism in Medicine Award, 2001. Dr. Puchalski has contributed to numerous journals including Spiritual Life, Hospital Physician, Annals of Internal Medicine, The Journal of Palliative Care, and Academic Medicine, to name a few. One of her articles for Spiritual Life, "Touching the Spirit: The Essence of Healing," received second prize in the National Catholic Press' annual award program, May 2000. Dr. Puchalski completed a course in Spiritual Formation at the Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C. She is also a member of The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Part of her clinical practice in internal medicine and geriatrics is integrating patients' spiritual beliefs into their health care. With her expertise, she can knowledgeably address the sensitive medical issues surrounding end-of-life care and care of seriously ill patients. Dr. Puchalski's work in the field of spirituality and medicine encompasses the clinical, the academic, and the pastoral application of her research and insights.

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