Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Religious Studies (MARS)


Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies

First Advisor

Brian E. Stiltner


Nurses, certified nursing assistants and other healthcare workers who care for those who are terminally ill face issues of mortality and even existential questions every day on the job. These professionals, who have intimate contact with their patients daily, must find an inner source of strength and perseverance in order to face people who are at the end of their lives, who may be in pain, and who frequently are alone in their rooms aside from the institution’s staff. This study asks whether an inner sense of religious faith or spirituality helps end-of-life healthcare workers conduct their daily tasks and get through the workday without feeling spiritually worn down. The process followed was to conduct a survey of a healthcare workers at a New Haven, Conn., assisted-living facility, which includes patients who are terminally ill. Five of these workers were interviewed extensively. Their stories, while anecdotal, illustrate well the different ways that healthcare workers view their inner faith or spirituality in order to approach their professional tasks from day to day. I conclude that religion and/or spirituality is in fact a valuable source of strength and comfort for end-of-life caregivers and that a bond often develops, usually implicitly, between the healthcare worker and the patient that is extremely valuable to both.


Master's Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Religious Studies at Sacred Heart University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Religious Studies.



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