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First Professorship for Spiritual Care will be filled in an ecumenical spirit

Munich, 04/30/2010

Research carried out at the LMU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Palliative Medicine over the past few years has led to a new awareness of the significance of existential and spiritual issues not only for patients who are terminally ill and their families, but also for the health professionals who care for them. The work has shown that these patients are anxious to discuss such questions with their doctors and caregivers, because this gives them the feeling of being treated and respected as “fully human persons”. An interfaculty working group on Medicine and Spirituality at LMU has been working in this field for several years. Members of the group have published a validated structured interview for the assessment of spiritual needs in patients. Their researches and discussions have now led to the establishment of a Professorship for Spiritual Care at LMU Munich – the first of its kind in Germany – which is endowed by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (German Science Funding Association). The position will be filled in equal measure by two theologians, the Protestant Traugott Roser and his Catholic counterpart Eckhard Frick.

Traugott Roser studied Protestant Theology and completed his habilitation (postdoctoral research and qualification to teach at professorial level) in Spiritual Care at LMU. He has worked as a hospital chaplain with a special interest in Palliative Medicine and Pediatric Palliative Medicine for many years, and has written several scholarly works on these topics. In 2008 he spent a sabbatical year in the Department of Palliative Care at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Eckhard Frick SJ is a specialist in Psychosomatic Medicine, and a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, in addition to possessing academic qualifications in Theology and Philosophy. He is also Professor of Psychosomatic Anthropology at the Jesuit College of Philosophy in Munich, and will continue to exercise this function after he assumes his new duties at LMU. Professor Frick has published books and articles on issues that arise at the interface between theology and medicine.

In 2009 Traugott Roser and Eckhard Frick jointly edited a collection of essays contributed by physicians, psychologists, pastors, sociologists, theologians and ethicists, which was published under the title “Spirituality and Medicine“, and is already regarded as a landmark in the field.

The Professorship for Spiritual Care, which will be integrated into the Faculty of Medicine, but has been set up in cooperation with the Protestant and Catholic Faculties of Theology, is the fourth Endowed Professorship in the Interdisciplinary Center for Palliative Medicine (IZP) at the Medical Center of the University of Munich. The others cover the areas of Palliative Medicine (Prof. Dr. Gian Domenico Borasio; endowed by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft), Pediatric Palliative Medicine (Prof. Dr. Monika Führer, endowed by the Krupp Stiftung, Essen) and Social Work in Palliative Care (Prof. Dr. Maria Wasner, endowed by the Stadtsparkasse München; in cooperation with the Katholische Stiftungsfachhochschule München).

“With the start of the Endowed Professorship in Spiritual Care, LMU Munich stands out as the only university in the world that has established professorships in all three areas of Palliative Medicine defined by the World Health Organization, covering the physical, psychosocial and spiritual dimensions of the subject”, says Professor Borasio, who is the present incumbent of the Chair in Palliative Medicine at LMU. “This makes it possible to illuminate from multiple perspectives the complex problems that unavoidably arise in end-of-life care. Collaboration between Medicine, the Humanities and the Social Sciences is an indispensable element of this task. We warmly welcome the new appointments and thank the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft for their generous support of this initiative.”

 

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