Medical-Spirituality Conference to explore life’s meaning in the face of difficult diagnosis

The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine is offering its annual Medical-Spirituality Conference, “The Soul Work of Living and Dying,” on Thursday, April 19, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., at the Sinclair Conference Center, Building 12, (301 W. Fourth Street, Dayton, OH 45402). The conference is for practicing physicians and others in the medical and religious community.

While modern medicine and contemporary technologies have extended lives, health care providers still struggle with the question of living well. For physicians and patients grappling with questions of what it means to live fully in the midst of chronic or life-threatening illness, the quest for answers is worthwhile, challenging and deeply personal.

This year’s 10th anniversary Medical-Spirituality Conference is an invitation to explore these issues with acclaimed authors and speakers Lucy Kalanithi, M.D., and Steven Z. Pantilat, M.D. Both encourage health care providers to contemplate suffering and life’s meaning in the face of difficult diagnosis with awe, purpose and humility.

They will offer their perspectives and conference participants will engage in thoughtful conversation while exploring questions surrounding important life issues.

Kalanithi is the wife of late neurosurgeon and author Paul Kalanithi, M.D. She will share her perspective about his writings and experience through a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. She was the steward of his manuscript and book, “When Breath Becomes Air,” published after his death. As a partner to his process, she offers unique insight into sharing his battle with cancer and the troubling questions of life, death and purpose.

Pantilat is a renowned international expert in palliative care and author of “Life After the Diagnosis: Expert Advice on Living Well with Serious Illness for Patients and Caregivers.” His work offers both compassionate support and practical advice for negotiating the tumultuous terrain of living with chronic and life-threatening illness.

The event will support the Healer’s Art Fund at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. The Healer’s Art Fund was created to help address an emerging crisis in health care: the growing loss of meaning and commitment experienced by physicians nationwide under the stresses of today’s health care system. Through the Healer’s Art Fund, the Boonshoft School of Medicine helps both students and practicing physicians develop the capacity to find lifelong meaning in the medical profession. The medical school educates tomorrow’s physicians through its Healer’s Art Course and sustains today’s physicians through its annual Medical-Spirituality Conference.

If participants register by March 19, the conference cost is $150 for physicians; $75 for nurses, counselors, social workers and other health professions; $75 for general participants; $65 for seniors; $35 for students; $35 for residents; and free for Boonshoft School of Medicine students.

To register for the conference, go to For more information, contact Nicki Crellin at or 937-245-7634.

The conference is sponsored by the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton and Premier Health.

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