Making CMDA Better: Lessons from Basic Life Support

I still remember the first time I donned a whitecoat (one of those half-length coats for students) with a stethoscope in my pocket and walked into a patient room at the big city hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1985. I was a second-year medical student at Indiana University, and I had just received instruction from

by Mike Chupp, MD

I still remember the first time I donned a whitecoat (one of those half-length coats for students) with a stethoscope in my pocket and walked into a patient room at the big city hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1985. I was a second-year medical student at Indiana University, and I had just received instruction from my clinical instructor on how to perform a thorough history and physical. I don’t remember my first patient’s name, but she was a young woman with a loud systolic heart murmur even I could hear. I also remember three words that were to guide me through each step of a thorough physical exam: “Look, listen and feel.” A couple of years later, those three words became critical again as I took my first basic life support (BLS) course and became certified both in BLS and Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), prior to becoming a surgical resident. Again, the phrase, “Look, listen and feel,” was the guiding mantra to get my first BLS certification card.

I remember vividly the evening then-CMDA President Dr. Al Weir called me and shared the news that the Board of Trustees had unanimously agreed to invite me to be the next CEO of CMDA, following Dr. David Stevens. I was overwhelmed with wonder at God’s providential plan for me and this wonderful organization that I had joined during my first year of medical school. After recovering from the initial shock, it occurred to me that somewhere down the road I would be standing in front of an assembly of CMDA’s members and sharing from my heart where I felt God wanted us to go. Of course, it never entered my mind that, due to a global pandemic from COVID-19, I would be sharing that address with you through this article and through a camera from our national headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee instead of in person at CMDA’s National Convention.

In my first “plenary address” to you as CMDA’s Chief Executive Officer, I want to share a brief message from my heart. This is the same message I shared with CMDA’s staff during a series of chapel devotionals in 2018 to 2019 entitled “Making CMDA Better.” Inspired by that medical school lesson to “look, listen and feel,” I’ve been meditating on some instructions from the author of Hebrews:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

From this Scripture, I suggest that making CMDA better first involves looking good. By looking good, I am referring to the focus of our attention in times like these for Christians in healthcare. Hebrews 12:1 reminds us of the faith “Hall of Fame” in chapter 11 and the numerous examples of heroes of the faith who have preceded us. By looking back, we can appreciate the many godly men and women in our CMDA “cloud of witnesses” who have served in healthcare, caring in Christ’s name and following in Jesus’ footsteps as servant healers. One of those CMDA heroes from this great cloud of witnesses in my own life was past CMDA President Dr. Bob Schindler. Bob was my senior surgeon partner in Michigan for three years, and he also co-authored the book Following the Great Physician with his wife Marian. If you like history, I encourage you to read this book as it will give you an appreciation by looking back at God’s faithfulness since the birth of CMDA in 1931, when two Northwestern students began meeting in medical school to study God’s Word together. (Visit to order your copy today.)

We also should be looking at the Great Physician. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “…fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…” (ESV). With our gaze fixed on the Lord Jesus, we are being transformed into His likeness, becoming reasonable facsimiles of the Great Physician.

Finally, we should be looking up in a posture of prayer. Hebrews 12:2 concludes by reminding us that Jesus is currently at the right hand of the throne of God, where He is interceding on our behalf. According to Hebrews 12:3, we are to “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men….” Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

CMDA members look good when we look back and remember God’s faithfulness, look at the example of Christ as Healer and Teacher and look up in a position of watchful expectation for God’s provision in times of opposition from sinful men.

CMDA has been a strong proclaiming organization for many years. As your new CEO, I believe our aspiration must also be to make CMDA better by listening well. Solomon repeatedly emphasized that listening is key to gaining wisdom. Proverbs 15:31-32 says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (NLT). And Jesus reminded us in Luke 8:18, “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them” (NLT). Under the guidance of our Board of Trustees, CMDA is launching a five-year strategic planning process. Through surveys and focus groups composed of our member stakeholders, we want to listen well to the perspectives and needs of all our members.

Finally, we must feel (or love) like Jesus did. If we love like He did and as He told us to, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples…” (John 13:35, ESV). That love, mandated by the great first and second commandments, represents a vertical and horizontal component. When I was interviewed by the CEO search committee nearly two years ago, I was asked how I would handle the opportunity to speak to a large group of healthcare students in New York City, many of whom would be antagonistic to our faith. After a moment of thought, the answer that came to me was simply, “I would talk about the Great Physician and how He genuinely cared for all people equally, as our ultimate role model.” The white-hot why of our CMDA mission statement is “to glorify God” and the first way we do that is to “follow Christ” and second to “serve with excellence and compassion.”

In summary, let’s make CMDA better in this race marked out for us by looking good, listening well and feeling/loving like Jesus did. This biblical life support (BLS) mantra will enable CMDA “to bring the hope and healing of Christ to the world through healthcare professionals” like you and me.

About the Author
Mike Chupp, MD, FACS, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), the nation’s largest faith-based organization of healthcare professionals. He is a board-certified general surgeon who earned his medical degree at Indiana University in 1988 and then completed a surgery residency at Methodist Hospital of Indiana in 1993. He then joined Southwestern Medical Clinic in Michigan where he practiced for three years as a general surgeon and remained a partner in the practice through 2016. In 1996, Mike and his wife Pam began a 20-year career as medical missionaries with World Gospel Mission at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. In 2016, Mike accepted the invitation of Dr. David Stevens of CMDA to become the Executive Vice President of CMDA, and in September 2019 he became CMDA’s Chief Executive Officer.

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