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How are Christian and Non-Christian Physicians Different?

We began our discussion by proposing that there are certain behaviors, attitudes or habits a physician who is a Christian tries to incorporate into their lives which distinguish them from their non-Christian colleagues. These characteristics when incorporated into their practice may affect their management of patients, their practice and their daily lives outside medicine. We listed and discussed seven of these but there may indeed may be several more. A section of scripture was selected to lead off the discussion of each one.

  1. Christian doctors take the time to pray (1Thess 5:16-18). We discussed what Paul meant by “pray continuously.” We discussed that prayer includes not just time on our knees but little snatches of prayer throughout the day, the times we remind ourselves of God’s presence in our lives and our opportunities to pray for and with our patients. We then discussed how prayer is incorporated in practice and what influence it has on this.
  2. They View death and time differently (1Co 15:50-55). We talked about how a world view that takes into account the existence of a life after death effects how we deal with dying/hurting patients. It was mentioned that when dealing with patients who are believers, discussing the next life may help bring comfort to their families. We also discussed how non-belief can lead toward the insistence on pursuing a great deal of futile medical treatments. This leads to increased suffering for the patient and increased cost for the family and society as a whole.
  3. They are willing to share Christ’s message when given the opportunity (2Tim 1:7-9a). We acknowledge that not all of us are gifted evangelists. But we agreed when the opportunity arises with patients, we need to be ready to share our reason for belief. We discussed what ways are easily available to make patients aware of our beliefs and not miss those opportunities to discuss our faith with them when they arise. Some of these are simply wearing a cross or having a faith-based poster or picture in the office. Some of us leave a Bible on our desks or shelf so that faith might become a topic of discussion. One participant shared how they incorporate questions of faith into his initial history taking process. This is done by simply including in the social history whether the patient has a particular faith base and faith community that they are a part of. If they acknowledge that they do he simply asks if they would like for him to incorporate that into their discussions of their ailment as well.
  4. They bring an attitude of service/mission to their vocations as a physician (1Peter 5:2-3). We briefly discussed how viewing our practice of medicine as a vocation, a calling from God, affects how we perform our duties. We discussed examples of how this is demonstrated in our every day work day.
  5. Their priorities and values may be different than non-Christian physicians (Mk 12:29-31). This reading points out that our main priorities are to love God and others. We shared what other aspects get in the way of these two. Obtaining a successful practice and gaining worldly wealth were mentioned as the main drags on our goal to keep God first.
  6. Christian physicians view money differently (1Tim 6:6-10). We then expanded on the discussion of how money can lead us astray. We discussed ways to maintain the proper perspective on our money. It was emphasized that a great method is to give a lot of it away – to be generous. Examples of how a generous spirit can enhance the giver as well as the receiver were discussed.
  7. They make the effort to regularly meet with other Christians to pray, praise and draw closer to God. (Heb 10:23-25). We then shared why gathering with other believers is an important aid to each of us. We pointed out that there are many opportunities to do so other than just showing up at church services on Sundays. Many of our members meet at weekly men’s or women’s small groups sponsored by a local church. The value of our monthly physician meetings was also discussed as a great way to be in communion with other Christian doctors.
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