Realizing the benefits of his 2-year experience in Ascension Health’s Executive Ministry Leadership Formation, Dr. Marc Barrett, Senior Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs envisioned a similar experience for physicians at Ascension Providence, an Ascension ministry in Waco, Texas. Based on his 27 years as a practicing urologist, he recognized that most already busy physicians would be reluctant to commit to further time away from their family.
With the goal to increase physician engagement in the Catholic healthcare ministry by focusing on the spiritual practice of medicine, Dr. Barrett and Jonathan Ford, Vice President for Workplace Spirituality and Leadership Formation, developed a Physician-Spouse Formation program which is now in its fourth cohort.
This is one of several videos that demonstrate the power of the 24 physician-spouse teams that have been involved:
The outcomes of Physician-Spouse Formation have resulted in stronger awareness of how medicine is a spiritual practice, greater engagement in our healthcare Mission, and stronger relationships which have shared the challenges of medical practice, family difficulties, deaths, births and significant health issues. Dr. Barrett remarked that we now deal with our work, our patients and each other on a different level. The difference is not easily quantitated with metrics or dashboards, but there is a new appreciation of how our culture must change to support further formative experiences and Ascension initiatives as a whole.
One Physician-Spouse Formation participant said of the program, “Formation was very important for me to reconnect me with why I went into medicine to begin with. It has been very encouraging to journey together and hear from other couples who are struggling with the exact things that we are.”
Another participant added that, “Our Cohort has become the protection of the soul. We’ve been to thousands of meetings and have never felt like we were “together.” With our Cohort we have hope. There has been nothing like it in our whole medical career. My prayer? That we will help more doctors and their spouses discover this gift!”
Dr. Barrett summed up the program well by saying, “Ascension’s vision is to promote a healthcare environment that supports physicians in their inherent calling to provide compassionate, life-enriching holistic care to patients and families, and enriches a physician community with a sense of balance, meaning, and life purpose. In Physician- Spouse Formation, the journey deepens the understanding of the healing ministry and both the physician and spouse appreciate the support and giftedness of each.”