Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform: A Catholic Medical Student's Perspective

I am sad.  Heartbroken, really.  I followed much of the discussion and debate this weekend and I was saddened to watch the will of the American people be thwarted by ideaology.  As a medical student, I am somewhat fearful nad uncertain of what the future of the profession holds.  Will this be a satisfying job? Or will I be weighed down by beauracracy and lose the ability to practice medicine as a Catholic physician?  There are many unanswered questions, and only time will truly tell how all of this will turn out.  One of the blessings of being Catholic is that I know that God is bigger than all of this.  We may be entering into a dark time in American history, or we may be seeing the darkness before the coming dawn.  The American people are fired up about this issue and I do not believe that fire will die out any time soon.  As Catholics, we have an opportunity to use that energy to fight for the repeal of this law and the implementation of true reform that will bring authentic, affordable health care to the American people.  There are so many things wrong with this bill beyond just the federal funding of abortion (no executive order can stop that).  This bill we cripple this country economically, destroy the patient-physician relationship, and horribly violates the principle of subsidiary.  However, as Catholics, we must first set our own house in order.

This is the time in which we must reclaim our Catholic identity.  This past week we watched as the Catholic Health Association and 59 leaders of women religious from around this country came out in support of the health care bill.  This was in direct opposition to the voices of both individual bishops and the USCCB as a whole who came out strongly against this bill until the very end.  This division within the Church has sown great confusion among Catholics and Non-Catholics.  I have had many non catholic friends come up to me and ask about this situation.  It almost feels as if we are to blame for not taking a stronger stand.  I know this is not completely true.  However, we have a mess that needs to be cleaned up.  In order to have the strength to over turn this egregious law, we must recapture our Catholic identity and make it known we will not stand for this law.  The time is now to renew our faith, to pray fervently, to frequent the Sacraments and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.  We must be strengthened individually and as a Church in our faith and go forth and fight the good fight for what is right and good and true.


  1. Mary in CO11:49 AM

    Brian, just followed the link from your comment to Patrick Archbold's NCR column.

    You're right: we MUST reclaim our Catholic identity.

    In turn, I nudge you with this thought: part of YOUR unique identity is your vocation to be a physician. That's part of God's gift to you, as is the grace that He gives you to follow that path -- and He promises to walk that path with you every day!

    As our Pope JPII said to young people on the 12th WYD, "Dear young people, like the first disciples, follow Jesus! Do not be afraid to draw near to him, to cross the threshold of his dwelling, to speak with him, face to face, as you talk with a friend (cf. Ex 33:11). Do not be afraid of the 'new life' he is offering. He himself makes it possible for you to receive that life and practice it, with the help of his grace and the gift of his Spirit."

    The lines of division between the faithful and unfaithful are becoming clearer. Pray for conversion of ALL hearts to the Lord; a clearer understanding of what it means to be a Catholic; and courage to live as faithful Catholics in these interesting times.

    I'll be praying for you, Brian, along with other pro-life Christians (esp. Catholic Christians!) who face working in the health sciences.

    God bless you and yours!

  2. Mary in CO-

    Thank you for your prayers! They are much needed. There is a lot of work, particularly for Catholic medical students and physicians. It will take great faith to persevere through all of this, but nothing is impossible with God and this can be our opportunity to put forth many great saints.

    In Christ,

  3. Brian, thanks for your heartfelt post! I wondered how you were after the passage of this monstrosity (aka "the bill"). Know that you're in my prayers!

  4. Mary in CO5:29 PM

    Spot on, Brian! Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc., who defend the unborn, sick, disabled, and elderly ... these, we need.

    Check out Ps. 107 -- it's a psalm of thanksgiving while looking back on trying times. Hindsight may be 20:20, but it also makes sense to praise God in ALL times.

    Besides, this isn't over yet.

  5. Brian,

    The practice of Medicine is one accorded great privilege in our society. A physician is one who heals or acts to relieve pain in suffering humans by cooperating with God. This latter part is what is perhaps overlooked. God is the Divine Physician; you are studying to be His hands.

    In life, talk is often cheap. Let your actions be your words. When you deal with patients with compassion, love and see Christ in each person, that Witness will resound more than you can understand.

    Leave it to God. Study hard, be dedicated to your Art and do God's Will. You can defend your Faith by both words and actions. I think your blog attests to the latter. I would invoke Saint Luke in prayer each day who was a physician as well!

    Pax tecum!