It is no exaggeration for me to say CMDA has had an influential impact on my adult spiritual life. Since 1999, I have been active with CMDA in one way or another. In 2017, my work with the New York City chapter was significantly increasing, and I found myself more interested in ministry activities than even my own private practice in surgery. After a couple years of praying and planning, I officially began my full-time ministry as the NYC Area Director on March 1, 2020. There was no way humanly possible we could have foreseen what would occur in NYC that same month.

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“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
—Psalm 51:10, ESV

It must start with us.

Many things have been laid bare this year. In late 2019, a novel Coronavirus referred to as SARS-CoV-2 originating in Wuhan, Hubei, China spread to the United States becoming a global pandemic. By mid-July of this year, there were close to 13 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, with around six million active cases affecting more than 200 countries. In the United States, there have been more than three million COVID-19 cases (with more than one million recovered) and more than 500,000 deaths. We would soon learn that African Americans—who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population—disproportionately comprise U.S. COVID-19 fatalities, with many having underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Income and wealth inequalities also tend to create greater disparities within communities of color, making access to adequate healthcare and healthy living an elusive and unaffordable necessity.

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Pornography is any medium that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to entice sexual imagination. Pornography has no beneficial use but damages human relationships. Mass communication technologies such as the Internet have expanded its reach to an unprecedented degree. Video and virtual reality have intensified its content. The introduction of sex robots that imitate human speech and sexual behaviors and are designed to perform sexual acts with humans are an extreme elaboration of pornography. All of these have dangerous psychological, social, and spiritual consequences.

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It has been said that the best way to learn about our future is to look to our past. A historical reflection on the actions of those who have gone before us can both guide us toward monumental successes and deter us from repeating colossal mistakes. A glance to history may reveal progressive social and technological advancements, yet it also affirms that the basic principles of a man’s heart remain unchanged. As Proverbs reminds us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

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Am I essential? As general dental professionals, we do not imagine many of you have asked yourselves this question. By choosing dentistry as a profession, it is safe to assume a certain level of job security and financial stability. Though both of those factors may have been initial lures into the field, what inspires us daily to practice dentistry is the impact we have in the lives of our patients, each created in the image of God. As dentists, all that we work to achieve is essential to the health and well-being of our respective communities. And yet, in the midst of the Coronavirus global pandemic, it feels like oral healthcare was deemed non-essential. States recommended dentists limit their offices to emergency patients only. No handpieces were running. No cavitrons were cleaning. Some dentists were even finding themselves unemployed! Oral healthcare seemed low on the priority list, and any momentum we had made in terms of advocating prevention felt lost.

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In 1998, Christian Medical & Dental Associations began leading major grassroots efforts to defeat the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. By 2003, it became evident we needed a name to stay below the “anti-Christian” radar in some of our media and legal efforts. Consequently, the American Academy of Medical Ethics (AAME) was birthed as a vehicle to give status and recognition to physicians and other healthcare professionals engaged in bioethics and public policy with us. A vision was cast to equip individuals and develop a more robust engagement with the bioethical challenges of our day.

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In this edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Omari Hodge and Nicole Hayes explore the topic of racism in healthcare and how no one is immune to it. Other articles in this edition includes topics such as COVID-19 and how it is impacting dentistry, a historical look at physician-assisted suicide and more.

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Bristol, Tenn., June 22, 2020 – Freedom of speech, or only freedom of speech when YouTube agrees with you? Today, Christian Medical & Dental Associations (www.cmda.org) sent a letter by fax and the U.S. Post Office to YouTube addressing a video they censored purportedly because it constituted “hate speech.” The video was a panel discussion that featured Walt Heyer, who formerly identified as transgender, who said, “This is a childhood development disorder,” in reference to gender dysphoria in children. He described the irreversible consequences of experimental hormones and surgeries for treating gender dysphoria in children.

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Washington, DC—June 3, 2020—The nation’s largest faith-based association of health professionals, the Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) today expressed appreciation for the Administration’s June 2 international religious freedom executive order that includes funding for international programs “intended to anticipate, prevent, and respond to attacks against individuals and groups on the basis of their religion.”

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Few of us trained to treat sick communities and continents. Unfortunately, that is our task during a pandemic. The origin of the word comes from the Greek pandemos, where pan means everyone and demos means population. Pandemics confront us with not just one sick individual but with hundreds of thousands of ill patients. The responsible pathogen overwhelms both individual immune systems and community healthcare systems. The toll is individual and collective.

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The question of suffering is a big one in depression, since suffering can lead to depression, and depression itself is suffering. We are fortunate to live in a society that is largely insulated from suffering, compared to other places and times where people have had to grapple with the daily reality of illness, death, poverty or war. As a consequence, we are fearful of any kind of suffering.

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I’ve been a family doctor in the same location for 30 years, so many of my patients have been with me a decade…or two…or three. Following people through their life stages has been a joy. We’ve grown older together. I’ve been acutely aware of this in the last two weeks as I’ve called patients to reschedule them. I’ve wanted to call them myself to make sure they don’t need anything, because I’d rather they avoid any medical facility for the next six months.

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It’s what researchers call a “cross-cultural universal.” That means no matter where you live, what your income, age, your culture or even your politics, generous people are, in general, healthier and happier. The mechanisms for it are built into our brains!

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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.

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To speak of artificial intelligence (AI) conjures dazzling images of an electronically reconfigured future managed, if not dominated, by calculating, thinking, autonomous machines. Realistically, AI has the potential to deliver numerous useful benefits to medical practice, especially as progress in medical science and healthcare delivery rely increasingly on digital technologies to store and analyze huge data sets. The health information in the human genome and the scientific content of medical journals, for example, exceed the capacity of the human brain to recall, interpret or keep up with exponential advances. AI promises to bridge that gap. Proponents are calling AI the fourth technological revolution following the neolithic transition to agriculture, the industrial revolution utilizing mechanized production and new sources of power, and the digital revolution based on computer processing of digital information.

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In this edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, we focus on having courage in the COVID-19. In includes resources to help healthcare professionals during this difficult time, as well as some of the information that would have been available at the 2020 CMDA National Convention.

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Bristol, Tennessee — May 20, 2019 — Dr. T. Bob Davis, a dentist from Dallas, Texas and his wife, Janis, received the Christian Medical & Dental Associations 2020 Servant of Christ Award at their home with a group of CMDA members and leaders participating electronically.

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Bristol, Tennessee — May 4, 2020 — Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) today announced Jeffrey Barrows, DO, MA (Ethics), as the Senior Vice President of Bioethics and Public Policy for CMDA, the largest national association of faith-based healthcare professionals. Dr. Barrows, an obstetrician/gynecologist, author, speaker, educator, and medical ethicist has been a member of CMDA for 38 years.

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Despite the Authority of Scripture, there are those who are confused on this issue and from that confusion (combined with political correctness) there are professionals guiding individuals through the process of hormonal treatment (as normal) and very tragically, even surgical interventions.

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Whereas modern medicine has made available technologies that can prolong life, medical science alone cannot answer questions of whether life-sustaining technologies should be used in particular circumstances or whether such technologies are consistent with patients’ goals of care, values, and beliefs about health, life, and death.

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Burnout is the current buzzword in healthcare, the subject of endless articles and editorial commentaries. Fatigue, depersonalization and cynicism characterize this happiness-ruining and career-destroying disease, which has reached epidemic levels among healthcare professionals across the country.

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Same-sex sexual expression is sinful, but what about same-sex attractions? As a new Christian, I had defined attraction to be equivalent to tempta¬tion. Therefore, I believed that all same-sex attractions were not sinful—because temptations were not sinful. However, I realized not everyone defined attraction the same.

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In the closing months of 1989, a brutal civil war erupted in Liberia and soon engulfed the small West African country. At the time, T. Abraham Browne was in high school, and the senseless killings forced him and his siblings to flee for their lives to escape the bloodshed. They reached a refugee camp where Abraham would spend the next 10 years.

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In this Spring 2020 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor; After Ebola, Confronting the Trauma, Addressing Same Sex Attractions, Mountaintop experiences, Gifts and Miracles of Addiction Medicine, and CMDA’s Statement on Advance Directives.

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It was one of those phone calls I dreaded receiving—a late night phone call from a team leader is usually not a good sign. That one phone call set off a chain of events that impacted our ministry in ways we could not have imagined.

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Our marriage has also been a journey. An adventurous one. When Ron and I first started out as a married couple, we were sure we were on the right path. Each of us thought we had the best possible traveling companion.

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Most people can do one or two of these things, but very few people can do more than that. I have always found this idea intriguing as my family and I considered how to budget the money we have been given. But it leaves out something very important we can do with our extra money, doesn’t it? We can give it away.

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In this Winter 2019 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, A biography of Peter Dawson, DDS, the Crisis in Nicaragua as told by Trish Burgess, MD, the Lure of Money, by Autumn Galbreath, MD, Marriage Maintenance by Patti Francis, MD, and CMDA’s new statement on Recreational Marijuana.

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Christian doctors and nurses are on the frontlines serving people in need. Driven by our faith, we welcome and care for everyone, especially the underserved. We care for homeless and migrant communities, prisoners living with HIV, and victims of gang violence, sex trafficking, opioid addiction and deadly epidemics. But our service is threatened by lawsuits brought in New York, Washington and California, which challenge commonsense conscience protections for healthcare professionals of faith. Religious healthcare professionals of all religions must be free to continue providing compassionate care without being forced to perform procedures, such as abortions, that would require them to violate their most deeply held beliefs.

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Washington, D.C., October 15, 2019–The Christian Medical Association, the nation’s largest faith-based professional medical organization, responded today to their victory in federal court for the conscience rights of medical professionals. The case, Franciscan Alliance v. Azar, sought relief from a 2016 federal regulation that threatened to drive religious doctors out of practice if they would not perform gender-transition procedures that violate their medical judgment and beliefs. Today’s ruling struck down the rule.

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Dr. David Stevens treating child patient in Phillipines

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019—The Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA, www.cmda.org) the nation’s largest faith-based association of health professionals, today released findings of a national survey showing that conscience-protecting laws and regulations help protect patient access to healthcare while addressing rampant discrimination against faith-based health professionals.

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The Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) has developed this policy on “medical marijuana” with both an inherent belief that the Bible is the Word of God–that it speaks into our time and culture and that God gave us his creation to use to its fullest potential—and with the incorporation of scientific evidence which provides a window into the truths about God’s creation.

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US Department of Health and Human Services

Conscience-guided healthcare professionals and students received a healthy dose of positive federal policy advances in the last few months. CMDA played a role advocating on behalf of our members in each of the following federal policy reforms that relate to conscience freedom, gender issues and abortion.

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What choice will you make when you come to a fork in the road? Will you choose to stand up for what you believe, or will you stand by and conform to the world around you? When I was a medical student, I pondered when the time would come where I had to make that decision and if I would remain faithful to my belief.

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I know what it is like when the “cure” doesn’t come. At the age of 17, I made a careless dive into shallow water and broke my neck between the fourth and fifth cervical level. For years I prayed fervently to regain the use of my hands and legs, but that healing never came.

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In this fall 2019 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Joni Eareckson Tada shares her journey of trusting God and finding purpose when “cure” doesn’t come. Plus, you can earn up to three hours of continuing education credits, learn more about how your conscience freedoms are being protected and more.

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Bristol, Tennessee, July 31, 2019 – Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) has appointed Jamey Campbell as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the nation’s largest faith-based association of healthcare professionals headquartered in Bristol, Tennessee. Jamey has more than 25 years of experience in communications and development, serving for the last decade at CMDA as the Vice President for Stewardship Development.

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Washington, D.C. – July 25, 2019 – Today, a coalition of medical organizations released a public statement condemning recent statements on abortion and conscience protections made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Osteopathic Association. The letter calls on this “Group of Six” to respect their position and represent all physician members in their public statements.

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Fanning the Flames of a CMDA Leadership Legacy

I attended my first CMDA National Convention in April 2012 and heard devotional speaker Luis Palau make this statement: “Big doors open on small hinges.” He explained how seemingly small events in our lives may serve to open big doors that God intends for us to walk through in order to enjoy incredible blessings that follow. A small hinge in my life was a letter Dr. David Stevens wrote to me after I had served at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya in early 1988 for two months during my fourth year of medical school.

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Backward and Forward

Franklin Graham, my boss, and I had just finished a meeting in the early 1990s when I walked into my office at World Medical Missions and found a letter marked “Personal and Confidential” on my desk from the Christian Medical & Dental Society (CMDS, as the ministry was called at that time). As I opened it, little did I realize it was the first step in a journey that would result in me leading CMDA for 25 years.

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Washington, DC, May 24, 2019–The 19,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org and www.Freedom2Care.org) today welcomed as “a move toward restoring rationality regarding sex discrimination in healthcare” a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that aims to restore the intent of Congress regarding sex discrimination in healthcare.

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April 8, 2019 – Bristol, Tennessee – A draft statement by the American Nurses Association regarding a nurse’s role when a patient requests physician-assisted suicide corrupts the role of a nurse. The nursing profession has a historical record of assisting patients with comfort, increasing and/or sustaining quality of life, seeing life’s intrinsic value and providing holistic family support, not aiding in the death of their patients.

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March 19, 2019–Bristol, TN–Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) calls on legislators across the U.S. to vote against the growing number of expanded abortion bills that have shocked our nation! Like New York’s Reproductive Health Act, the bills proposed in Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Illinois and Virginia allow abortion without limits…

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Todays Christian Doctor Spring 2019 Cover

In the spring 2019 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, you can earn continuing education credits with an article from Dr. Thomas Okamoto about doctor suicide and how healthcare is responding to the increasing rate of doctor suicides in the U.S. This edition also includes articles about focusing on health, leading a Bible study and more.

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Washington, DC—March 6, 2019–The Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), the nation’s largest faith-based medical association, today joined a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The brief defends Indiana’s statutory requirement that women receive the benefit of ultrasound information when considering an abortion procedure.

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I am sure you, like me, have faced this question on countless occasions. In our busy professional lives, we are constantly being reminded of annual society meetings. We joined them for professional enrichment and acknowledgement of credentials. Possibly our paper is accepted to be part of the program. And yes, we do get some CME credits and a chance to socialize with colleagues. But do we go or not? Life is so, so busy, and the kids’ school and athletic events are right at the same time. I’d have to get someone to cover my practice and my church commitments. I think I am spinning too many plates!

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Washington, DC – February 22, 2019: The 19,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) in a statement today enthusiastically welcomed a final new rule that will govern tax funds awarded for family planning purposes under the Title X program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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We just need someone to help us find our way,” the patient’s wife pleaded as she sat at the head of the table in our procedure room nearly four years ago. She was facing away from the surgical field where I was working meticulously on her husband to suture the vas deferens together using microsurgery under the Zeiss surgical microscope hanging above the table.

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I’ve heard people say, “The Scripture jumped off the page at me.” Or I’ve heard them say, “I’ve read that before, but this time it just ‘spoke’ to me.” Indeed, I have had the same experience as well. God often speaks to us through a phase in life or a particular circumstance along with His Word. And then sometimes we see the Bible come to life right before our very eyes!

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I had no idea what burnout was until it happened to me…twice…on two different continents. Actually, I knew what it was the second time, and I felt like I should have known better and seen it coming.

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The first drug wave was the opioid epidemic. In 2016, more Americans died from drug overdoses (67,000) than during the entirety of the Vietnam War (58,200).1 The second and more insidious wave is coming—it’s the marijuana wave.

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Sexual Harassment in Healthcare

It is tempting to think sexual harassment is a problem that happens to other people in other places. Sadly, that is not the case. According to Medscape’s 2018 survey of 6,200 physicians, 7 percent of physicians have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the last three years.

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Shelby Montgomery

In this article from the Winter 2019 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, we feature Shelby Montgomery, a third year at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received my bachelor’s of science in kinesiology at LSU in Baton Rouge, spending her junior year of undergrad at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on the island of Oahu through National Student Exchange. After graduating from LSU, I worked for one year at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge as a research coordinator for the Heads Up project.

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Facing the Pit of Evil

In this article from the Winter 2019 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics) shares when we follow our human nature, we are tempted by a desire to bunker down and protect ourselves from evil. The Bible tells us to flee this temptation, but just as importantly, we should also fight evil.

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Today's Christian Doctor Winter 2018 Cover

This Winter 2019 issue of Today’s Christian Doctor deals with some of the evils in our world today: sexual harassment in healthcare, drug use, and human trafficking. It also focuses in on healthcare professional burnout, which is happening in epidemic proportions and causing many to leave the ministry God called them to in healthcare.

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When I asked him if there were any other hopes he had at this stage of his life, he just shrugged and said, “Nope, all my hopes are in you guys – the medical profession.” He died three weeks later tragically clinging to tomorrow’s news.

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How should Christians come to the end of life? What is the appropriate use of technology to prolong life? How can we assure that when our time to die comes we will do it in answer to the call of God rather than because all of the technology of modern medicine has been exhausted?

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Q&A with David Barbe, MD

In this article from the winter 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, CMDA has an exclusive interview with David Barbe, MD, the President of the American Medical Association.

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CMDA Member Dr. Cindy Anthis found herself facing an unexpected situation when her local community in Texas was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. In this article from the winter 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Anthis shares how her clinic responded to the hurricane and its aftermath.

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Today's Christian Doctor Winter 2017 Cover

In the winter 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Mark Crouch explores the role of Christian healthcare professionals in authentic community development. Other topics include CMDA’s newest missions conference, relief work after Hurricane Harvey, the Psychiatry Section and an exclusive interview with the President of the American Medical Association.

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Renewing the Mountaintop Experience

In this article from the spring 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Bryant Stoudt shares seven ideas that you can use to apply what you learned on a mission trip in your busy, everyday life.

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Author Ben Palpant encourages you to view culture as a garden to cultivate in order to see true change in this article published in the spring 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor.

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In this article published in the spring 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Stephen Manchester outlines how you can integrate spiritual care into opioid treatment in your practice. Plus, for the first time in the magazine’s history, you can earn continuing education credit with this article. 

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Today's Christian Doctor Spring 2018 Cover

In the spring 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Stephen Manchester outlines how you can integrate spiritual care into opioid treatment in your practice. Other topics include standing up against physician-assisted suicide, cultivating culture and applying what you learn on a mission trip to your everyday life.

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Eagerly approaching the end of her Certified Nurse Midwife education, CMDA member Sara Hellwege decided to seek a position where she could minister to medically underserved patients without compromising her life-affirming convictions.

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In this article from the summer 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. David Prentice discusses how genetic engineering has the potential for great benefit and great harm.

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In the cover story from the summer 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Al Weir discusses an important question for all healthcare professionals: when is the right time to retire from practicing?

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Today's Christian Doctor Summer 2018 Cover

In the summer 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Al Weir discusses an important question for all healthcare professionals: when is the right time to retire from practicing? Other topics include the latest bioethical issues in gene editing, finding community in healthcare and standing up for your beliefs in the workplace.

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Did you have a sling shot when you were a kid? I did, and I used to pick up rocks and pebbles from our driveway to use as ammunition when I plinked tree trunks, scared birds away from eating our garden and knocked cans off a stone wall.

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Side {by} Side: Changing Lives for 30 Years

After an interviewing trip in 1987, my husband announced he wanted to complete his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. To this day, I still remember hearing myself say, “That’s fine, honey. We could go there and have a ministry to internationals because many people from all parts of the world come there for training and then return to their homeland. It would be a great reverse mission field!”

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Sued or Fired? Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster

Would you prefer to endure a medical malpractice lawsuit, or would you rather be terminated from your employment? Is there much difference in your emotional rollercoaster ride with either option? Would you want somebody who has ridden that rollercoaster before to assure you that the hellish ride will eventually finish?

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Today's Christian Doctor Fall 2017

In the fall 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Walt Larimore explores ways you can incorporate spiritual care into your busy schedule. Other topics include the importance of spiritual training, overcoming burnout and more.

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Today Christian Doctor Fall 2018

In the fall 2018 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Kenneth Lim, MD, considers how to sustain a lifetime of emotionally healthy spirituality in medicine. We look at CMDA’s Medical Malpractice Ministry, our Side By Side ministry, our VIE Poster Sessions, and Dr. Stevens discusses facing California as we fight Physician-Assisted Suicide.

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Where Did My Joy Go…and How Do I Get It Back?

Looking over the edge of burnout, Dr. Betsy Manor had to ask herself, “What changed?” Did she make the wrong career choice? Does she care about people less? Is healthcare changing too much? In this article published in the fall 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Dr. Manor shares how she overcame burnout to find joy again in healthcare.

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Most of us have been involved to varying degrees with different types of training: training for our specialties, to run a race, to get in shape, to eat healthier, to get better in our areas of interest. We put tremendous amounts of time into our professional training. But what about our spiritual training? Dr. Jeff Amstutz discusses this topic in this article published in the fall 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor.

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