Recent advancements in health science and the current health policies being implemented in the country have made some medical professionals, such as Christian doctors, question where they should draw the line. How can a Christian, who believes the tenets of Holy Scriptures, become a competent practitioner of medicine?
Can patients trust their health, or even their life, under the care of these Christian doctors? Wouldn’t their Christian philosophies conflict with what is expected of them as a healthcare provider? Contrary to popular opinion, Christian doctors can still be professionally competent and morally upright.
To be a professionally competent practitioner, a doctor is bound by the traditional principles of medical ethics. These ideologies do not seem to conflict with Christian values in the Bible.
Moral code and moral justification.
All doctors, whatever they believe in, should value life. In doing so meant avoiding anything that can lead to a patient’s death or bodily harm. This has been mentioned in the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not kill) and St Paul’s epistle (that bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit).
The patient trusts that his physician will provide the right counsel that will benefit him and protect his privacy. It is the concept of free and informed consent that the patient or his surrogate, unless in case of emergencies, knows what are the benefits and risks for the treatment or procedure being done.
The patient has the right to refuse or accept treatment, especially after being given a variety of options with their corresponding risks and benefits. With Christian doctors, it should be in line with the sanctity of life, a natural law that is also a component of the moral principle of medical ethics.
The doctor is there to help others in terms of healing the sick, cure the injured, and relieve pain. Palliative care is also a form of helping others, just as the Good Samaritan did in the Gospel of Luke. Patients who opt to refuse treatment in lieu of dying in peace should be physically and spiritually comforted and removed from unnecessary distress.
To do no harm is mentioned in the Hippocratic Oath. The doctor should be able to assess each of his patients if any of the treatment or procedure he intends to carry out will ultimately benefit the latter. Christian doctors should be able to point out not just the physical but spiritual damage that might result of their actions.
This is the concept of respecting what is due to each patient – that they have access to proper health care, his rights is respected and the doctor treats him fairly. This meant treating every patient equally, regardless of their personal beliefs and biases.
Moral integrity and virtuous character.
Being a doctor meant the community expects professional conduct and diligence, just like Jesus Christ. But most of all, being a Christian doctor meant adding love to the mix. They do it to honor God through the service of other people.
Doctors Can Still Be Christ-like and Provide Quality of Care
There are current issues that may conflict with how a Christian doctor applies these principles of medical ethics. Popular ethical issues of contraception, abortion, gender reassignment, and euthanasia have been front page headlines that not only made patients question the professional integrity of Christian doctors, it also made the latter question if they could remain morally upright in dispensing their duties.
Advocates of Christian health care maintain that doctors can still be Christ-like and provide quality of care when confronted by such issues by adapting certain strategies. These, aside from the traditional principles of medical ethics, should be kept in mind by Christian doctors so they can maintain their moral standards without compromising their medical responsibilities.
- Speak out. Stand up for anything that is against Christian moral values. Christian doctors have the knowledge both from a medical and scriptural perspective to get questionable policies scrutinized.
- Be fair. Patients can request certain procedures that might not be in line with Christian beliefs. If they cannot be persuaded to do otherwise, it is best to refer them to other doctors who might not have qualms doing so.
- Serve the needy. Like Jesus, Christian doctors should strive to help patients that might need more attention but cannot afford to do so. Some do it through medical missions or through advocacies that address their issues.
- Share the faith. Not everybody will like Christian values because they conflict with their personal agendas. However, they have the right to know what standards that Christian doctors personally adhere to.
- Work with love. Daily interaction with different patients can test the most patient Christian doctor. But with love, everything becomes a bit tolerable and there is always the lighter side of things.
- Trust in God. A healthy and growing relationship with God might seem impossible in a demanding career like medicine. Finding time to pray and trusting God is always there will help build it.
- Think differently. Christian doctors know in their very core that life is eternal and that there is a spiritual side to it. They know that physical death is not the end of a person’s existence.
To be a Christian doctor with scruples is to be focused on making God a center of everything: even in the mission of lovingly serving their patients. This meant listening patiently to their complaints and ails and in return making them understand how it came about, what can be done about it, and help them decide what is best for them physically and spiritually.
Halland Chen is an MD who currently practices in New York at the Vein Institute and Pain Centers of America. With a passion in regenerative medicine, Dr. Halland helps patients alleviate pain and avoiding surgery by allowing patients to heal naturally using the body’s own growth factors and repair mechanisms. He is on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Regenerative Medicine, whose leadership Directors also come from the Harvard Stem Cell Group and Mayo Clinic. Among his other passions, Dr. Halland travels alongside with tech entrepreneurs across various locations internationally to cultivate new upcoming and emerging technologies, kite-surfing, and writing informative articles to help educate readers.
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