The EPICC project is on the road! A major step forward is made in teaching and learning about spiritual care education in nursing and midwifery in Europe. From 30th October until 3rd November, the first Teaching and Learning Event of the EPICC project took place in Zwolle in the Netherlands. Viaa Christian University of Applied Sciences hosted this event. Thanks to all participants – it was very successful!

It was a great privilege for me to chair this event and meet so many colleagues from different universities and colleges all over Europe. Many thoughts went through my head during the preparations for the event, such as the organisational aspects, and also about the questions

  • would we really get into an ‘educational flow’ with each other, and

  • how do we deal with different national, cultural and professional backgrounds?

The outcome was phenomenal! I think that every participant’s personal and professional commitment to really learn from each other brought us together in an intense learning process. Everybody felt free to bring forward their expertise and experience, and were really willing to listen, to understand, and to be open for critical dialogue. It was really impressive and inspiring to see the positive development of the group process during this week. When you are working so close together for a whole week, it sometimes felt a little bit like being in a pressure cooker (if you could ever feel how that is!). But we didn’t get over-cooked! On the contrary, we became more and more inspired for the cause of spiritual care education.

We were not only together with educators, but also with students, patients and healthcare professionals. They provided valuable input for spiritual education. The central question of this event was:

  • what should we teach nursing and midwifery students about spiritual care and how do we teach those students spiritual care?

In a process of interactive teaching and learning, a lot of knowledge was shared during this event. The input from different countries and from different cultural backgrounds was very inspiring. In this way, the whole event was an example of spiritual care education. The core of spiritual care is getting the right connection with a person (patient) on a spiritual level. Then, good listening and questioning is important.

In plenary and group sessions, an intense learning process took place that led to common thoughts and opinions about the question, ‘what should we teach and how do we teach?’. It is very special that at the end of the week all participants agreed upon the existing competencies and learning objectives for spiritual care education arising from the Intellectual Outputs. They were collated in a draft standard for spiritual care education in nursing and midwifery. This standard will now find its way in spiritual care education all over Europe because all participants will implement these in their education over the coming year. Results of that implementation will be evaluated in the next Teaching and Learning Event in Malta on 24th-28th September 2018.

In a way, this event was historic because a foundation has been laid on which spiritual care education in Europe can be built further. Not only a foundation because of the standard for spiritual care education that was worked on, but also because educators from so many different European countries met with each other and worked together. With this, a strong educational network is born in which spiritual care education can be developed further by teaching each other and sharing learning experiences. This is only the beginning. I hope many other participants will connect with this network and will participate in building further on this milestone we have reached.