Medical school is mostly boring and the parts that are not are often tragic, which is why few people write about the experience. Â Prospects facing newly-minted residents and attendings are not much better, as the overwhelming secularization of a discipline once seen as divine has fueled financial exploitation, divisive politics, and increasing frustration, cynicism, and disillusionment in those who once sought something more meaningful. Â While there have been exponential gains in scientific understanding and treatment achievement, changes in “medical ethics”, malpractice, and medical culture have also surpassed the average healthcare provider’s ability to make meaningful and humble sense of the world. Â As a result, not only has healthcare lost much of its posterity, austerity, and integrity in our post-post-modern culture, but it has coerced Christians into a defensive and embattled posture, in which they feel it is all they can do to simply be Christian and a physician, much less a Christian physician.
However, Edmund Pellegrino, founder of modern medical ethics and a Christian himself, once said, “Medicine is the most humane of sciences, the most empiric of arts, and the most scientific of humanities.”* Â By definition, medicine must bridge the most vexing dichotomies and paradoxes of our modern world: life and death, suffering and healing, spirit and body, science and faith. Â If it is to be of any value, it must make the transition from “benchwork to bedside,” across ever-widening socioeconomic gaps, and from sorrow to joy.
In short, the new nature of Redemptive Healthcare must be willing to and capable of adopting an innovative stance, again bridging seemingly disparate and conflicting forces with the counter-intuitive truth of the Gospel: that Jesus Christ, who was in very nature God, became a man and humbled himself to death, even death on the cross. . . . and that through that death we have forgiveness, healing, and resurrection.
In anticipation of the Lenten season and Easter, I would like to share a series of reflections on death and resurrection as played out in my journey through medical school and residency. Â The first of these begins with a reflection given at my medical school’s Anatomy Lab Memorial Service, where medical students gather annually to humbly thank the friends and families of the cadavers who donated their bodies to the dissection lab. Â I hope it resonates with those of you who have struggled to find some human connection to the theoretical work that takes place in your own laboratories, offices, and centers for learning and Gospel. [Read more…] about Introductions: Dissection of body and soul