Mission statement

To transform western medicine by synergizing the power of modern biomedicine with the potential for healing of every person who seeks the help of a healthcare practitioner. We plan to achieve this objective by serving as champions for whole person care at McGill and in the wider community through our teaching, research and translation of knowledge.

Traditionally, the existential and spiritual aspects of illness and their relationship to health care outcomes have received limited attention within the educational and research environment of North America. In recognition of this fact, the McGill Programs in Integrated Whole Person Care were instituted in February 1999 on the initiative of Dean Abraham Fuks and Dr. Balfour Mount. The initial proposal to develop and to implement the Programs established the need for further research studies and educational programs that address the subjective experience of illness so as to include the spiritual and/or existential components of personhood, as well as the physical and emotional elements that are currently the focus of attention in the medical profession.

The McGill Programs in Whole Person Care are based on the premise that in situations in which treatment is unable to change the disease outcome, it may be possible to create a space in which healing can occur. Lessons about quality of life and individuation, learned in the arena of advanced illness, also have relevance earlier in the disease trajectory and for those who are physically well. While the existential/spiritual domain is known to be an important determinant of quality of life, there has been little emphasis on integration of these issues in health care. The Programs therefore seek to integrate the physical aspects of personhood along with the psychosocial and existential/spiritual ones, and to better understand how to respond to suffering experienced by the whole person.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Donner Canadian Foundation and the Max Bell Foundation. Tax-deductible donations to McGill Programs in Whole Person Care can be made by contacting our office. 


The 5th International Congress on Whole Person Care was held in-person from 19 to 22 October, 2023. This year the theme was Teaching Whole Person Care: Elephants in the Room. Click the link below to read more about this inspirational and thought-provoking conference!

Dr. Tom Hutchinson discusses experiential learning and reflection to support professionalism, mindful clinical congruence, physicianship and other fascinating topics. 

The International Journal of Whole Person Care aims to serve as a scholarly forum for how we approach health care, with an emphasis on the existential/spiritual aspects of health research and practice. Full access to this Journal is free and widely available.

Dr. Yusuke Takamiya talks about Considering Life through Death: Introductions to Lessons of Life, talk initially presented at the 5th International Congress on Whole Person Care.

Dr. Tom Hutchinson explores the work of James Joyce and its relationship to the healer's art.

For more stories in education, research and health in the community visit

McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations.

We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous peoples whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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