By Marlena Chavira-Medford
In today’s health-care industry, spirituality tends to be an afterthought. Carmel Valley resident Nadine Kassity-Krich, however, aims to change that. She and longtime colleague Dr. Jamieson Jones recently co-authored “First, Heal Thyself: How to Survive Spiritually in the Healthcare Industry,” a book that examines how the soul intersects with caretaking. Nadine Kassity-Krich
Kassity-Krich has worked as a neonatal nurse, an outreach ambassador at Children’s Hospital, and she is a graduate of Leland Kaiser’s Integrative Fellowship Program. She met Dr. Jones while working at Children’s Hospital, and after discovering that they shared a mutual interest in the role spiritually plays in the world of medicine — or the lack thereof —the pair began collaborating, often teaming up for lectures and presentations.
The duo has now combined their knowledge, as well as some anecdotes, into this book. Here, Kassity-Kirch talks about the impetus behind this book and what she hopes readers gain from it.
Why did you want to write this book?
We initially wrote this book for health-care providers to re-instill the focus on why we all went into this business, before it got muddled with business, government and HMOs. A lot of colleagues get burnout because they’re facing life-threatening situations on a daily basis, so it’s an emotional roller coaster. But if we can shift our perspective, then we can see our work as a spiritual learning experience instead of something that drains us. If we can teach the patient something and, in turn, we can take a spiritual lesson from the patient, then it’s a win-win for both parties. I call it reciprocal healing. And it doesn’t matter what faith you are, we can all take spiritual lessons from each other.
It sounds like a neat concept. Do you think it’s applicable to others outside the healthcare industry?
Yes, I do think there’s something for everyone in this book. As I got deeper into the writing process, I realized that this book is really applicable to everyone because all of us have been caretakers at some point — whether it’s been caring for a young child, an aging parent, or just ourselves.
What do you think the healthcare industry would look like if spirituality were in the equation?
It would not be chaotic or based on crisis-management, which I think it is right now. If you look at indigenous cultures, which do involve spirituality in their healing, there is a peaceful acceptance of life’s challenges and the passing of life. I think we could learn something from that. In our culture, we’re so wound up, so busy all the time. Most patients get about 7 minutes in the office. But if we learned to be more connected, to honor each other's feelings, I think the whole experience would change. In the end, I think all patients really want to be heard, and to feel connected and honored.
Having worked in the healthcare industry for many years, I imagine you speak from experience. What have been some of the experiences that brought you to that realization?