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CEO Perspective: Making Every Encounter a Spiritual Encounter

Posted by Terry Shaw | Apr 2, 2018 4:06:07 PM

In this article, originally published in the March 2018 edition of Southern Tidings Magazine, Adventist Health System’s president and CEO, Terry Shaw, shares his Christian perspective on the work we do in our hospitals and outpatient settings.



The World Started Out Perfect

When God created the heavens and the Earth in all of their vast array, the world was perfect. Then He created the first two beings, in His very own image. These specimens were also perfect — mind, body, and spirit. I would have loved to have seen them. God was pleased with His creations.

But, it did not last long. Sin ruined this perfection. Once the apple was eaten, harmony was lost and a vicious cycle of sin, despair, falling out of favor with God, and praying for His return continued throughout the Bible’s teachings — until the New Testament. 

apple tree

Jesus Spent Most of His Time Healing

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:9-14. 

Jesus walking

While He was here, Jesus spent most of His time healing. Jesus’ miraculous healings had to be amazing. He preached, He taught, but He is recorded as healing more than anything else. 

He healed people who were broken. He didn’t care if they were good or religious. Every time you see God doing something in the New Testament, He is taking care of a physical need first. He gave people the opportunity to feel whole.


Christ’s Ministry is Our Inspiration

We are called to do the same every day, and that is the promise we aim to deliver every day to our consumers.

We are in a sin-filled world. It will probably get worse. It is our responsibility to reach people who are broken, and do something better or different to make them feel whole.

nursing talking with woman in wheelchair

When we come to work every day at Adventist Health System, 80,000 team members have the privilege of providing a slice of health, hope, and healing to every person we come in contact with. That’s why our mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ” cannot be contained in the four walls of our hospitals.

We Need to Reach Patients Beyond the Hospital

With 95 percent of our patient encounters taking place in our outpatient facilities — physician practices, labs, rehabilitation centers, and the like — we have to make every single encounter, wherever in our health system, a spiritual encounter.

We know from our Faith in Practice study and our own published research that a majority of providers are willing to assess the spiritual needs of patients, and that providers who receive training on how to engage patients on spirituality are twice as likely to regularly conduct spiritual assessments. 

doctor conducting spiritual assessment

That is a great place to start. We will build on that this year through a major strategic initiative to deliver spiritual care to and through the lives of our employees, particularly in the outpatient setting. We are in the process of hiring clinical mission integration specialists. They will fulfill this mission strategy system-wide for all of our markets.

I believe this will be transformational for our company. But, more importantly, it will be transformational for the millions of patients who experience wholeness through Christ’s healing ministry. What a privilege and responsibility we have to make sure every encounter is a spiritual encounter, every caregiver a spiritual caregiver.

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If you want to join a team that’s dedicated to Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ, click below to view our job openings.

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Topics: spiritual care, mission, healthcare as ministry, ceo perspective

Written by Terry Shaw

Terry Shaw is the president/CEO of Adventist Health System.