Pastoral medical care is something that requires a lot more investigation. Last June, Karl Jawhari convinced a Texas medical board that it should become an agreed order of business to investigate this, as he felt it was pertinent to overall health improvements, not just for patients but for medical professionals as well. The board agreed and there is now an outstanding order to review what its impact is. The June board has also set aside a number of hours to determine exactly what a pastoral consultant should do.
Karl Jawhari on the Role of a Pastoral Consultant
According to Karl Jawhari, a good pastoral consultant could provide significant support to patients and medical staff alike. Indeed, they can support with:
- Personal issues such as relationships and bereavement.
- Health issues such as addiction, depression, stress, and pregnancy.
- Professional issues such as licensing bodies, regulatory authorities, and disciplinary matters.
- Trainee issues such as housing, getting children into school, and language courses.
- Confidence issues such as training in speaking in front of an audience.
- Harassment and bullying.
- Team building, including launching social events.
- Rota development, ensuring people are placed where they should be, when they should be.
- Providing guidance on the suitability of careers within different hospitals.
- Referrals, focusing on things such as psychological support, medical treatment, counseling, psychotherapy, and more.
Other Supportive Measures
According to Karl Jawhari, hospitals should also consider setting up a training system for their residents, something that is likely to be implemented as a pilot in some of the pediatric intensive care units in Texas. Each resident should be assigned to a more senior staff member, thereby supporting the pastoral role. Regular meetings and 360 degree appraisals should take place and other members of staff, including nursing, are expected to take part.
Downsides of the Pastoral Support Role
Karl Jawhari does understand that bringing in a pastoral consultant does have downsides as well. One of those is being able to find the educational supervision required for such a role, since it is completely new. Hence, it may be difficult to identify opportunities for career development for a pastoral consultant. Additionally, someone may be required to provide the consultant with their own pastoral support as they are likely to have to carry the burden of other people’s problems quite significantly. However, overall, and if those two challenges can be overcome in particular, it is believed that this role will be of great benefit to the health community as a whole.
Various medical boards are now looking into the possibilities and feasibility of doing so. Budgets are limited, which means it can be difficult to add new members of staff. However, if it can be demonstrated that doing so brings about cost savings, such as by less hours lost due to long term sickness as a result of stress, the role will effectively pay for itself. Hence, there is significant excitement about the upcoming pilot training programs and whether or not they will become a benchmark for other hospitals and departments across the country.