Becoming Known As Whole Persons in Clinical Encounter
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This study sought to shed light on the unique essence of the clinical encounter in a biomedical context when whaiora (those seeking wellness) and healthcare students are invited to a whole person mindbody encounter (wpmbe). It used hermeneutic phenomenological methodology to explore the lived experience of clinical encounter when both clinician and whaiora are invited to be fully present as whole and experiencing persons. The whole persons approach is non-dualist; clinicians hold a unified ontological assumption that both subjectivity and physicality are relevant factors in the precipitation and perpetuation of illness. The experience of transformation and profound change to clinical practice for clinicians trained to work this way has been written about; but there are limited studies about the shared experience of the dyad from each person’s perspective. This wpmbe research occurred during an 8-week programme offered at a university health clinic. Whaiora were invited to attend the programme, advertised as a whole person approach to living with an ongoing illness or life changing event, run by an interprofessional group of university based clinical educators. Together, healthcare students and whaiora explored the experience of living with a life changing event or ongoing health condition through group and individual interactive sessions. The stories gathered during this research came from the clinical encounter between whaiora and tertiary healthcare students on clinical placement from two universities in Auckland, New Zealand. It was not particular to one healthcare discipline and was not illness specific. Three major themes emerged from this study. Theme One, revealed the experience of the real struggle being allowed to surface. Theme Two, being deeply known and accompanied as a person in relationship was shown as particular to this experience. Theme Three uncovered immersion in an emergent organic space of genuine loving intention as a vital component. These themes created a platform to review the lived experience of illness and point to the ongoing challenge to understand the nature of suffering in illness and the role and responsibility healthcare has in attending to suffering. This study concluded that whole person healthcare within a biomedical context significantly enhances positive outcomes for all parties. It points out that important matters are being overlooked in healthcare by continuing to pursue a narrow dualist focus. The findings in this project demonstrated that whole person healthcare delivered with a mindbody clinical sensibility is remarkable and contributes to personal reintegration and wellness.