1. Donesky, DorAnne PhD, ANP-BC, ACHPN
  2. Sprague, Emily BSN, RN
  3. Joseph, Denah MS, MFT, BCC


Spirituality is a key focus and ethical obligation of nursing practice, but many nurses express uncertainty or discomfort with this aspect of their role. The purpose of this article is to explore the domains of religion, spirituality, and culture as commonly conceptualized by chaplains, as a framework for nurses to provide spiritual care interventions to patients in acute care hospitals. Using anecdotes and illustrations from palliative care practice, this article discusses the enhanced benefits to patients and families when spiritual needs are addressed, with specialty-level chaplain interventions, primary spiritual interventions provided uniquely by nurses, or interventions that require the cooperation of both professions. Lessons learned from the inpatient palliative care team experience can also apply to chaplaincy and nursing care for patients in settings beyond the acute care hospital and in disciplines beyond palliative care.