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Q & A with Rev. James R. Adams, MDiv, BCC – Palliative Care Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator

Photo of James AdamsJames is the chaplain for the inpatient palliative care service as well as the bereavement coordinator for UNC Hospitals. He is a priest endorsed by the Anglican Church in North America and is board certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains. He received a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Master of Arts from The Catholic University of America. He is experienced in supporting the spiritual and existential issues facing children and adults with severe or life-limiting illnesses and end-of-life. James is passionate about integrating evidence-based spiritual care into the palliative care service as well as supporting families following the death of a loved one.

Why did you decide to work in palliative care?

I decided to work in palliative care after my first spiritual care conversation in the hospital. I met with a late middle aged woman who had numerous diagnoses and bilateral leg amputations. She shared about her life, story, family, and opened up about her hope to leave the hospital to be home with her children. She struggled to figure out how to talk to her adult children about her wishes, and we worked together to figure out how to rely on her faith and engage in conversations with her family. From that visit forward, I knew that I was being drawn to people with serious illness and facing the end of their lives. I discovered a calling, what Frederick Buechner names as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” For me, palliative care is the place where the deep hunger for meaning, spiritual companionship, and walking in grief meets m gladness to enter to these patients’ and families lives.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is working with a team to try to relieve the spiritual, emotional, social, psychological, and physical pain of our patients. Most often, chaplains work separately from medical teams or in specific areas of a hospital or service, such as pediatrics or oncology. In my case, I have the opportunity to work closely with physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and social workers to include the spiritual aspects of patients and families into their clinical picture. It is refreshing and exciting to collaborate and visit with other team members and get a fuller picture of our patients and families.Photo of James Adams and his family

What do you enjoy most about living in the Triangle area?

The food, coffee, and breweries are my favorite parts of the triangle. Having kids, I don’t get out too much, but we are always able to find a new place that is welcoming to kids and families and locally owned. My wife and I like to take time during the summer to explore newly opened restaurants and coffee spots while our kids are at summer camp. We have an ever-growing list of new spots and have rarely been disappointed!