Saturday, May 4, 2013

Christian Medical and Dental Society - 2013 National Conference - The Wonder of Sabbath

This year's CMDS conference, May 2-5, 2013, was held in the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, Edmonton, AB. The theme was the Wonder of Sabbath with workshops on avoiding physician burn out, professionalism, Christian ministry and balancing work with prayer and meditation. It was everything I personally needed. The hundreds of participants were as fortunate as I to be there
"Then Jesus said,"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Mathew 11:28

Reverend Mark Buchanan, senior pastor of New Life Community Baptist Church in Duncan, BC was the KeyNote Speaker. So enjoying his spirituality and Christian faith, the heartfelt message and the profound oft time simple not simplistic thought, I bought two of his books: "Spiritual Rhythm, Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul" and "The Holy Wild, Trusting in the Character of God". I especially enjoyed his Golden Rules presentation on how to keep the Sabbath Wholly and Holy. He just made the point that self care doesn't need to be selfish and that we needed to be still to appreciate what God does. He likened the harried physician to Martha in the story of Jesus and compared that with Lazarus. Normally we'd hear about Martha and Mary but I truly appreciated the discussion of sabbath in the context of Lazarus. His talk about the 'rhythms of rest, work and play" was so inspired.

The break out sessions were typically all very good and only one could be chosen from the trinity of choices each morning and afternoon. I was so impressed by "Taking Medicine Downtown to Where the Need Is" the CME on inner city medicine by Dr. Nancy Craig and Dr. Linda Der. Working as I do in an inner city clinic I was really appreciative of the discussion, stories and research presented. It all rang true. Hope Clinic Edmonton is a loving remarkable world of healing.

"Be It Resolved that Christian Physicians must develop common ground with unbelievers and build on this neutral base to be a credible witness in a secular world" was a provocative, informative and at times very amusing debate between Dr. Dan Reilly and Reverend Joe Boot.

Dr. Ted Fenske's presentation, Lack of Professionalism in Medicine: Why It's In Short Supply and What's Needed to Replenish It was to my mind worth the flight and weekend to hear this. I'd just reviewed hundreds of pages of academic writing on medical professionalism in the last year only to have Dr. Fenske sum everything up, cut through it all with his inspired genius and make suggestions that really were rooted in clinical reality.

The Christian Foundation of Science: A Medical History You Won't Learn in Medical School by Reverend Boot was so reassuring. I know how Western Medicine grew directly out of the work and charity of Christian physicians and yet in the revisionist history of errant academia I hear the opposite. I loved his listing quotes of Pasteur and Lister and Osler and comparison of the basis of 'evidence based' medicine with the "magic' and 'superstition' increasingly riding on the coat tails of these successes.

Over and over again in the conference the relationship of doctor and patient was compared to a covenanted relationship as opposed to that of a 'consumer' or 'customer' the common designations clinicians are increasingly being forced to use. I almost cried to hear other clinicians men and women whose reputations and work make them leaders in the country describe themselves as following a calling rather than just doing a 'job'.

It was exhilarating to be among the missionaries who like Albert Schweitzer had so lead me in my journeys to the arctic and pacific islands and inner city. I felt restored to be around people who understood me when I said I have gone where I believed the greatest need was.  I was humbled to meet elder clinicians who'd spent years in the Congo, or India or South America.

Some of us laughed together  when we considered how much more money we could be making doing abortions or euthanasia or selling bad medicine for high price, yet because we were Christian we loved what we did, even if at times we were persecuted for our faith. The benefits so outweighed the cons.
Over and over again we had opportunities to discuss our inner lives with each other and share our prayers.

I so enjoyed sitting with Dr. Phillip Ney and hearing his Pro life journey in defence of the unborn.

I would have loved to have heard Margaret Cottle's talk on "Countering Euthanasia in a Secular Workplace. I've shared her deep writing on Palliative Care and the care of the dying. There is no greater advocate for the person than Dr. Cottle and she presents her scientific wisdom with such admirable clarity. The Cottle's together provide wonderful music for the CMDS year after year. Dr. Robin Cottle can always be counted on to bring together a band and singers for the most extraordinary praise worship each day. This year there was even more jazz in his popular guitar.

 Dr. John Patrick presented on Choosing Better Things. It's hard not to choose to listen to John but I've heard him repeatedly and have bought so many of his tapes I play so often driving on long trips. I pulled myself away from his workshop to attend a conflicting one that I knew I needed to attend this year, if it was at all possible, even more than I need to listen to Dr. Patrick.

There were others I'd have loved to have heard too but didn't. Good reason to return next year.

Dr. Cathie Olson's Banquet presentation, "Why We Need Missions as Much as Missions Need Us" was a wonderful story of this woman and her family's missions abroad. Accomplished in delivering babies deciding that the children overseas needed her to 'deliver' their teeth, she decided to learn dentistry for missions. Then she went on to train nurses in a mission on treating cavities in children. What a wonderful story with moving slides full of smiles where once there was such pain. Medical Students who'd been on a Nepal Mission study shared their journey.

All talked of coming closer to God in their service. At times I felt my eyes well up with tears to be among these healers talking as they did of their love of God and love of their neighbour. What a privilege it is to be a physician. What a Joy it is to be a Christian. IMG 3019 IMG 3022 IMG 3024 IMG 3025 IMG 3026 IMG 3027 IMG 3029 IMG 3030 IMG 3032 IMG 3033 IMG 3034 IMG 3035

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