Send Them, & Go With Them

In July 2012, I was lying in an emergency department in Destin, Florida, wondering how a little gallbladder could cause me so much pain. I prayed for the pain to stop, and thankfully it did. The problem, however, did not go away. And as I headed home from the beach the next day, I grew more and more anxious about the upcoming healthcare mission trip to Haiti I was scheduled to go on in just two weeks with CMDA’s Global Health Outreach (GHO).

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Transforming Ecuador

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “Short-term mission trips are a waste. They do more harm than good. Americans only go on mission trips to help feel better about themselves and their lives. Short-term teams aren’t trained to serve cross-culturally.

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TCD Spring 2017 Cover

In the spring 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, we examine the foundations of professionalism in healthcare. Other topics include a new program for neurologists, vaccines, fully surrendering to God and more.

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TCD Summer 2017 Cover

In the summer 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, Ron Brown highlights the results of Global Health Outreach’s long-term strategy in missions. Other topics include the opioid epidemic, fellowship in healthcare and sharing experiences with students.

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Todays Christian Doctor Main

Today’s Christian Doctor is a full-color, quarterly magazine devoted to today’s issues in healthcare, including inspirational testimonies from fellow Christian healthcare professionals, public policy updates, glimpses into the future of healthcare and examples of how to integrate your faith into your practice.

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By the time you read these words, America will have finally chosen a new president after seemingly endless years of primary races, campaigning, debates and grudge matches pitting candidate against candidate. Chances are, whether you voted for the eventual winner or not, you shoulder at least some measure of concern for the future of our country.

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So began Dr. Ann Tsen’s journey from clinical practice to a nontraditional career. She is not alone in her dissatisfaction with some aspects of medical practice and her search for an alternative career path. Many physicians at varying stages of life are finding themselves considering alternative career paths—often, much to their own surprise.

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Transgenderism is a hot topic in today’s culture. We feel it is important to respond appropriately in a Christian manner when faced with this topic of discussion, as well as when dealing with it in the healthcare profession.

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Two years into their marriage, CMDA member Dr. Adam Lewis and his wife, Kim, decided it was time to have children. Their high hopes soon descended into desperation, an experience shared by over two million couples in America who face the challenges of infertility.

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Today’s Christian Doctor – Fall 2015
After lots of prayer and planning, the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) opened its doors in 2003 with a vision to become a leader in embryo donation and embryo adoption. Now, just 12 years later, they are celebrating the momentous arrival of their 500th baby and the NEDC is the leading comprehensive non-profit embryo donation program in the U.S., with more pregnancies through embryo adoption than any other like-minded program.

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Calling me over to her bed in the ICU, she fumbled to grasp the lapels of my white coat. With surprising strength she drew me close to her face and said vehemently, “I don’t care what my doctor says, or what my family says, I just want to be kept comfortable until such time as I am no longer alive.”

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Ward 3, the locked psychiatric unit where I began my residency in psychiatry, was an utterly unattractive place, a tired fluorescent network of wall fabric and tile, fragrant with cleaning solution and stray bodily fluids. Its pajama- clad inmates, expelled from comfortable 21st century American culture by the demons of chronic mental illness and addiction, would stabilize, rest, detoxify, regroup and then—eventually—leave. It was a place of great pain, of small victories and sometimes, astonishingly, of irrepressible hope.

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The Erosion of Tolerance

Be encouraged to take a stand for Christian ethics in this article from Dr. John Patrick published in the fall 2014 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor.

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If someone offered me a parka in a blizzard, I’d take it. Same with a hat in Death Valley, soup during a famine or a parachute in freefall. I’d not only take these things, I’d lunge for them. You would too. When desperate, we accept help.

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Four years ago, the inauguration of the first African-American president in United States history closed with a benediction from Pastor Rick Warren. Warren, author of the bestselling Purpose Driven Life, might be the most well-known evangelical pastor in America. Among the things well known about Warren at the time of his inaugural invitation was his stance on the definition of marriage.

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My journey with medicine began when I was only eight years old. As I listened to a missionary speak about the need for the next generation to continue the work and become missionaries, I felt God impress upon me that He wanted me to become a missionary doctor to Mexico. From the beginning, missions and medicine were intrinsically linked for me. So when I started school at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem, New York in the fall of 2011, I knew that I wanted to be used by God even before I got to the “mission field,” but I had no idea how much of a mission field I was walking into.

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From My Viewpoint: Healthcare Reform

For months, it seemed like the country was holding its breath. With baited breath, some waited in anticipation and others waited in dread. Experts and analysts outlined countless “what if” scenarios, examining and scrutinizing various sides of the argument.

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As Roberta Flack softly coos her 1973 Grammy-winning song in the background, the 2011 TV commercial slowly unveils a stunning, color image of a developing, gently moving baby in utero. The baby’s tiny arm curls upward, framing her glorious face.

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Remember to remember is a recurrent divine command. God wants us to remember the past in order to celebrate the good and learn to avoid evil. Equally recurrently, the children of Israel forgot to remember and the consequences were usually severe, including exile and slavery.

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Part 1 of the series dealt with pre-marital sex, the biblical model of sexuality, porneia, adultery and polygamy. As a correction to the section regarding porneia in Part 1, it should have stated that forbidding fornication “. . . came from the Tanakh (the Old Testament)” rather than “. . .came from the Tanakh in the Old Testament.”

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We are created as sexual beings, so sexuality rightly holds more than a passing interest to us. Likewise, sex sells, but the products offered are often flawed. Confusion lurks for our young people — older ones too — when encouragement for the loosening of sexual standards comes, as it sometimes does, from religious quarters. How should we respond?

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It’s trendy to be a bomb-thrower regarding balance. “Destructive,” says one Christian author. “A myth,” claims an inspirational speaker. Impossible, undesirable, unrealistic, and unattainable are other accusations hurled in the balance direction. The business magazine Fast Company ran an article headlined “Balance is Bunk!”

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Einstein’s life began badly and kept getting worse. At birth, his parents were alarmed about his malformed head. They prayed his brain was not damaged. He was slow to speak, raising fears of retardation. “Classmates regarded Albert as a freak,” said a friend. “Teachers thought him dull-witted because of his failure to learn by rote and his strange behavior.” When his father asked what profession suited the boy, the headmaster said, “It doesn’t matter; he’ll never make a success of anything.”

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When Jill was 14, she was forced to run away from home to escape repeated physical and sexual abuse. She ended up in the home of Bruce who found her alone at a local mall and promised her a job in his home “business.”

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I never planned to be a “preacher of righteousness,” as Peter described Noah in 2 Peter 2:5. It all started a few weeks after I became the CEO of CMDA in 1994. The most common comment from graduate members in those days was, “CMDA was great when I was in training, but what does it do for me now?”

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A panel of Princeton University scientists recently gathered together to deliberate “whether strong religious belief can coexist with reliance on science.”2 Constraining their definition of truth to “factual human knowledge,” the panel, led by professor of molecular biology Lee Silver, posed the provocative question, whether “science has effectively demonstrated that religious beliefs have no place in the rational mind.”2 How one decides that question guides the answer to a related question essential for the Christian physician. How can faith in Jesus Christ coexist with medical science

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Today’s “new normal” is an unglued mindscape for some doctors, an exciting opportunity for others. How Christian doctors relate to limitless change will be governed primarily by the quality of their relationship with the One who never changes and their trust that they really are His work in progress.

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Human trafficking today is a 44 billion dollar a year industry. With over 28 million humans in slavery worldwide, it is likely that Christian doctors will encounter one or more victims in their practice. We can make a difference, if we care and dare.

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Betty had served God well for years as a missionary in Africa. She was a strong believer and had a passion for the glory of God. At 80 she began to lose things and had difficulty remembering recent events. By 83 she was no longer able to care for her invalid husband and was placed in a nursing home. For the last five years of her life she sat and babbled incoherently.

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The 2005 US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders every year. This number is dwarfed by the several million that are estimated to be trafficked within their home countries.

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Every morning when I get up, I ask myself two questions: First, is God as worried as I am? If the answer is yes, then I cancel my agenda for the day ’cause it’s all over. But if the answer is no, I ask the second question: Then why am I worried?

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Many couples who have used reproductive technology in an effort to have children are faced with the daunting dilemma of what to do with remaining embryos that will not be implanted and brought to birth. These so-called “excess” embryos are being targeted for destruction by researchers who promise miracle cures. On the other side of the equation are over two million infertile couples who desire to have children.

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The debate over the status of pre-born humans has become clouded due to the redefinition of certain terms over the past few decades. Biological advances, including the destruction of embryos to obtain embryonic stem cells have also heightened the ethical dilemma. However, human life remains worthy of protection from the moment of its individual uniqueness—fertilization.

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Proponents of therapeutic cloning seek to clone human embryos, but don’t want them implanted into women. Instead, they want to use them to produce stem cells that might some day be developed into therapies. These stem cells and resulting tissues would be immunologically compatible with the person from whom they were cloned, thereby overcoming the risk of rejection that plagues tissue transplantation from other people.

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“Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into a variety of tissues. This means, through careful engineering, stem cells could be used to repair a damaged brain or heart, rebuild a knee, restore injured nervous system connections, treat diabetes and much more. That’s the potential power of stem cells, and the reason the University of Minnesota is investing greatly in its Stem Cell Institute – the first of its kind. The Institute today will change medicine as we know it tomorrow.”

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The physician-patient relationship is the cornerstone of medical practice, an essential ingredient in the restoration and maintenance of health. As a researcher, clinician and teacher, I have spent much of my career studying, implementing and modeling the healing effects of the physician-patient relationship, seeking to maximize its benefits in the care of patients. My first research studies at Yale University addressed patients’ perceptions of physician performance, in which I documented that patients ultimately cherish “TLC”—time, listening and caring.1-3 Patients desire and welcome treatment by doctors who show the willingness to listen to their concerns and the heart to care for them as individuals.

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Depending on your practice, within the foreseeable future any number of patients are going to pause on the way out of the exam room, hand on the doorknob, to ask one question or another about alternative medical therapies. For example, one patient might want to know what you think of the “hallelujah diet,” which her friend believes to be divinely inspired.

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A generation or two ago, when medicine was primarily low-tech, a majority of patients died quickly of acute illness, usually in their own homes, cared for by families, neighbors, and church friends. But things have changed. Now, 90 percent of North Americans die slowly from debilitating disease (organ failure, malignancy, dementia, etc.).

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Walt Larimore Image

It was bound to happen. And it did, on a Thursday morning. But let me give you some background first. My best friend and practice partner, John Hartman, MD, and I were seeing patients in our family medicine practice from, as they say, conception to cremation. We had been working to introduce a variety of simple spiritual interventions that allowed us to practice not just as healthcare professionals who were Christians, but as Christians who happened to be healthcare professionals.

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I knew I needed a mentor. I was busy with my career as a physician — too busy for my family. My priorities were out of whack. I needed someone who would encourage me and keep me on track. So I asked the pastors who came through the hospital, “Who’s the one layperson you know in this area who looks most like Jesus?.”

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