Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not Enough Doctors in America?

Click on the above photo or title for the CBS story.

Here comes the annual apocalyptic prophesy from the Association of Medical Colleges, outlining how the country will come to rack and ruin over an extreme dearth of doctors unless they are given more money and allowed to train more physicians. In a case of the fox guarding the hen house, these reports and testimonies from the association goad lawmakers and universities into opening the door to more and more subsidies for medical schools and of course more students. As for the students paying upwards of two hundred grand for the privilege of attending one of the association's schools, this expensive annual report is not helping them with tuition by any means. With pattern similar to the rest of the medical industry, the schools' windfall of increased income with larger class sizes and a more and more singular and technical curriculum has not trickled down to those students they are supposedly serving, nor to the patients they are to see. In the non-economy of American medicine, more supply means more money, especially for the barons at the top. The CEO of the Association of Medical Colleges, Dr Darrell G. Kirch, brings in over a cool million in salary according to the journal "Modern Healthcare."

Some References: 
For a detailed summary of the AAMC report as a pdf, click here 
Evans, Melanie. More healthcare association execs earn $1 million or more. Modern Healthcare. June 7, 2014
Data on medical school tuition from US News and World Report, compiled by Delece Smith-Barrow, 2016

Sunday, June 7, 2015



Spiritual growth does not happen by running faster.  What keeps many of us
from growing is not sin but speed.We are going as fast as we can, living
life at a dizzying speed, and God is nowhere to be found. We're not
rejecting God: we just don't have time for him. We've lost him the blurred
landscape as we rush to church. We don't struggle with the Bible, but the
clock. It's not that we're too decadent; we're too busy. We don't feel
guilty because of sin, but because we have no time for our spouses, our
children, or our God. It's not sinning too much that's killing our souls,
it's our schedule that's annihilating us. Most of us don't come home at
night staggering drunk. Instead, we come home staggering tired, worn out,
exhausted, and drained because we live too fast.

If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull
over to a rest area, and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to
speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest

                                             -Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Service Dog


"Jesus knew that poverty and disease in themselves are not the hardest things for people to bear; the hardest to bear are the loneliness and the hopelessness that come with being sick or being poor."
                                                                              -Shusaku Endo, A Life of Jesus

We doctors often poke fun of the service dog. We see the dog-lovers, obsessed with their dogs, bring them around the hospital to visit the sick.  What can they do, really?  Get in the way, pee on the floor.  

In America, various programs offer a safety net, a help, a support, to the poor, the elderly, the sick.  As I walk into the hospital every day, I am thankful that the patients can be cared with a high standard with relatively minimal restrictions due to the cost of care.  More so since the Accountable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  

Yet Endo reminds me of what else I see daily:  chemicals and surgeries leave a large gap in care, and perhaps inadvertently contribute to it.  When the care came out of love and sacrifice in the face of need in the form of a family member, a volunteer caregiver, or a nun, that love and spiritual connection was obvious.  When the care comes with a paycheck as a carrot and the threat of liability as a stick, the love is not so obvious, and may be missing altogether. 
Thank God for the opportunities to serve those who are suffering.  For God still calls His people to love.  We should learn from the service dog.  Never tempted to suspend presence with the patient to mix a medication or do another x-ray, the service dog is unpretentious to the core. Perhaps if Jesus were here today, he would say: "if any would enter the kingdom of heaven, let him be like one of these service dogs."  Sit with the patient.  Do not try to cure them, leave that to someone else for a moment. Listen.  Empathize.  Lay hands on them in prayer and communion, not only to cut them open. They may not live longer because of this.  But perhaps they, and us, will become more human.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life and Self


A self-absorbed society thinks “life” is bounded by the skin of an individual. It pictures “life” as “self,” considering the self the essential element, the “living” thing. It pictures “life” as contained, particularly, within the physical body. If living is something the body does, then dying is the decease of this mortal flesh. Simple definitions. But deceptive. And dangerous.

This sort of life-and-death ignores relationship altogether. It absolutely rejects the intimate connection between one’s healthy living and one’s righteousness. Health is physical only; happiness is self-satisfaction; love must therefore be some gratification of this self’s desires. What does righteousness have to do with any of this? Nothing. In the world’s eyes, righteousness is a deadly binding of the self and an imprisonment, therefore, of that self’s freer, fuller life. There is no room here for obedience.

Thus, the sinful world celebrates self above all other things (since self is the final judge of goodness, the recipient of every “good” thing). Likewise, it puts the love of the self above all other loves. It reverses the necessary order of creation and holiness by saying: “First I must love my self before I can love anyone else.” It acts like God, living and loving in a solitude. Other kinds of loving become the choices of the self, only so long as the self considers itself served by them; for no other loving, no other relationship is seen as necessary for life.  The only code this self obeys is that which proceeds from and preserves its self, that which fulfills and enlarges the self. A perfect independence, a complete self-sufficiency—I need no one but me--is considered the highest sort of freedom.

And there is the wretched deception: one so “free” is merely one alone. Beginning and ending with the self isn’t life at all, but isolation. Which is death.

And here is the danger: such “freedom” hurts others by sundering dear relationships, killing them little by little.

                                                                                -Walter Wangerin, Mourning into Dancing

Friday, May 22, 2015

Water Under the Bridge?

Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian  -     By: Gary A. Haugen
What is infinitely more interesting, however, is not how far we have taken ourselves from what was intended, but how powerful and unrelenting our yearning remains even now in spite of all the water under the bridge... Our soul sings when properly reminded of the courage and goodness for which we were made and we weep when we look upon our moments of failure. Hallelujah, for by this we know that the heart of our maker lives. It still pounds within us: muffled, neglected, stifled, denied and stricken. And yet beating, wooing, yearning, weeping. Who we truly are and were meant to be is evidenced more by our yearnings than by our history. This is the grace of God that even now he sets before us a pathway to courage and boldness of heart.

                                                          -Gary Haugen, Just Courage


View image on teleSUR English website

Yesterday, just next to our high school where right now I have 2 kids, 2 black men were shot by a police man for trying to steal some beer and then being belligerent with a skateboard.  Hopefully they will live.  

Today, hundreds of boat people with no country languish waiting for a place to land.

Injustice seems to be everywhere.

Lord have mercy