The illness experience is chiseled by the search for meaning, for purpose, for greater understanding of existential suffering. This search is at the center of the spiritual journey.
And with scientific advancements came cures and treatments that the healers of antiquity could have never imagined. However, these advances came at the cost of appreciating a holistic approach to health. How pitiful is it when a profession which was once completely focused on healing the whole person must now devote entire conferences and countless seminars to finding ways of injecting that back into both its practitioners and the people they serve?
Given my time constraints as a third-year, I thought that maybe I could change things up — instead of going to an activity to help alleviate stress, I could ask someone older and wiser than me for tips on how to de-stress. And who better to ask for advice than my 79-year-old grandmother?
I approach the holiday season with apprehension; it conjures up memories from my youth of disunity, abandonment and what seems like intractable melancholy and disappointment. King Solomon in the book of Proverbs, which is in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible, states that “hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and merely writing these sentiments produces a visceral feeling of a sick, empty heart.
How can doctors-in-training incorporate wisdom from spiritual traditions into the delivery of health care? Rembrandt, a second-year medical student in Chicago, shares his exploration of how lessons from Christianity offer him insight into life’s big questions that arise in medicine.
While dancing on the line between church and state, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby’s decision to not fund contraceptives for its employees drew considerable media attention and controversy. Since the use of contraceptives opposes the religious beliefs of the company leaders, Hobby Lobby employees seeking access to contraceptives must pay for them out of pocket. To better understand the experience of faith that ultimately guided the Hobby Lobby company leaders and in order to “bridge the gap” between science and medicine on the topic of religion, it is important to explore the mechanisms by which widely used religious routines affect our brains.
Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile value systems that pull a person in opposite directions. Specifically in medicine, where the laws and nature of the work are so sensitive, yet also so important, it is within normal daily function to default to the ethics and American system of law. However, for Orthodox Jews, it is not that simple. Certain laws, such as the laws pertaining to the Sabbath, can make practicing medicine quite tricky.
How can doctors-in-training bring spiritual perspectives into their approach to medicine? Petra, a second-year medical student in Texas interested in family medicine, shares how living in Buddhist monasteries has influenced her relationships with fellow students and her experiences with the struggles of medical school.