Christian Choices in Healthcare, an outstanding collection of essays by senior Christian doctors, has been widely distributed to students attending the last two annual CMF conferences. Divided into two parts, Christian Vocation in Healthcare and Medical Ethics, the essays are solidly written and most are deeply grounded in Scripture. The following is a review of selected essays.
Surgeon Alan Johnson writes us an open letter from a professor to a medical student. What am I doing at medical school? Where do I get extra stamina from? I'm scared of making contact with patients! What about the future? All these issues are addressed very well in this letter. John Wyatt, paediatrician, tackles the issue of maintaining priorities as a Christian medical student and asks 'Are you a spiritual schizophrenic?' Michael Jones writes about being a stressed doctor in a stressed society. I found his observation that even the Apostle Paul suffered from stress (2 Cor 11:28-29) very amusing.
Medical students need career advice but few medical schools are good at providing it. In medical careers, Michael Webb-Peploe, cardiologist, discusses how the role of the doctor within society is changing. He also proposes some useful criteria for choosing a speciality. It is vital to seek God's guidance through prayer and reading the Bible. He concludes: 'Neglect of time spent in the presence of God (either alone or in the company of other Christians) lies at the root of many a spiritual shipwreck in early professional life.'
Susan Clarke, nuclear medicine consultant, writes about women in medicine: a Christian perspective. She looks at the immense value of women in medicine and gives advice about the training years in women's careers.
Our own Student Secretary, Peter Saunders, opens up the second part of the book with an outstanding discussion on making ethical decisions in medicine. What are medical ethics? Where do they come from? There are different bases for making such decisions and these are examined: gut feeling, reason, conscience, consensus, consequences, relativism and authority. How do we know God's will? What should we do when Christians can't agree?
There then follows comprehensive discussions on issues of early life, abortion, human genetics and sexuality. Peter Lewis, pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Church, Nottingham, writes a very clear essay on hope, healing and the charismatic movement. Andrew Fergusson, CMF General Secretary, grapples with euthanasia and alternative medicine (subjects on which he is a considerable authority). Roger Moss, psychiatrist, writes on demons and it is interesting to compare his views with those expressed in Chris Cook's article in this issue of Nucleus! Finally, other issues at the end of life such as growing old and bereavement are discussed by George Chalmers who is, very appropriately, a geriatrician.
Clinical Medical Student