04 Aug


After thirty-three years of spiritual care with people in crisis, Michele Shields is dedicated to sharing stories of the people who have inspired and taught her.  She is the Director of Spiritual Care Services, Emerita, and Research Scholar at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. At the forefront of Spiritual Care Research, Michele and her colleagues at UCSF Medical Center further developed her theory of caring, scientifically demonstrating spiritual growth trends in cancer patients even at the end of life.

Michele speaks regularly before public and professional audiences, such as the Association of Professional Chaplains, the Center for the Advancement of Palliative Care, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, and Buddhist Chaplaincy Network. She has served as a Board Member for the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, as a Lecturer in the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the UCSF School of Nursing. On Twitter, she has grown a following of 3,795 real followers. She contributes regularly to Hospice and Palliative Care News.

Her previous publishings include:

  • Merchant, M. (former name) and BucknerC. (2002) Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Care, San Francisco Medicine: Journal of the San Francisco Medical Society, May 13-15.
  • Shields, M. (2009) Rituals in Spiritual Care, San Francisco Medicine: Journal of the San Francisco Medical Society, 82(5), 22.
  • Shields, M. & Joseph, D. Spiritual Care in the ICU. In Oxford specialist handbook End of life care in the ICU, from advanced disease to bereavement, G. Rocker et al. (eds.) pp. 140-149. Oxford: Oxford University Press, c. 2010.
  • Dunn, L., Kestenbaum, A., Rabow, M., Hocker, W, Dohan, D., James, J., Shields, M. Advancing Spiritual Care Research in Psychosocial Oncology: Example of a Mixed Methods Study. Psycho-Oncology. February 2013.
  • Shields, M., Kestenbaum, A. & Dunn, L. Spiritual AIM and the Work of the Chaplain: A Model for Assessing Spiritual Needs and Outcomes in Relationship. Palliative and Supportive Care. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Shields, M. & Emanuel, L. Future Directions for Chaplaincy Research. In An Invitation to Chaplaincy Research: Entering the Process, G. Meyers and S. Roberts (eds.) pp. 171-177. New York: HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, c. 2014.                       http://www.healthcarechaplaincy.org/docs/publications/templeton_research/hcc_research_handbook_final.pdf
  • Kestenbaum, A., James, J., Morgan, S., Shields, M., Hocker, H., Rabow, M., Dunn, L.B. Taking your place at the table: an autoethnographic study of chaplains’ participation on an interdisciplinary research team. BMC Palliative Care. 2015, 14:20
  • Borovska, S., Kestenbaum, A.R., Shields, M., Hocker, W., James, J.E., Dunn, L.B. Spiritual Care: Profiles of Three Core Spiritual Needs in Older Patients with Advanced Cancer. American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Michele, her husband Jim, and Superdog Rafa live in San Francisco, California and Kaneohe, Hawaii. A former tennis professional, Michele now competes in triathlons, half marathons, and swims. As she gets older, she is winning more by attrition in her age group. The secret to winning is staying alive. Her latest passion is outrigger paddling. Michele exercises so much because she enjoys eating so much. If she had not become a United Methodist minister and hospital chaplain, she would have been a restaurant critic.

Michele’s father Bill was part Native American from the Crow tribe of the reservation on Hardin, Montana and her mother Shirley was from pioneer stock, who came over the Oregon trail and settled in California. Both parents graduated from UC Berkeley.  Michele and her brother Wayne are fifth generation Californians. Michele attended McGill University for a Bachelor of Arts, Boston University School of Theology for a Master of Divinity, and Drew University for a Doctor of Ministry. Her father thought she would never stop going to school.