Discussions with a few readers struggling with the competitiveness and focus on self-promotion in their studies inspired my next article on desiring God:
God Wants Your Heart, Not Your Degree
I’ve experienced first hand the murkiness that arises when we endeavor toward a God-honoring pursuit, but must do so within a system mired in idolatry.
With graduations upon us, I pray that as we revel in our blessings, we can give God the glory.
11 Comments Add yours
Again, I’m so thankful to read your articles. I long for more resources like yours to speak into the matters of faith and work, especially in regards to the medical field. It’s so good to be reminded that Gods plan for us is not dependent on how skillful our hands are but how dependent are hearts are on Him.
🙂 Your feedback is always such a gift to me, Jayme. May God encourage you and spur you on with joy.
Hey Katie, found your article from a physician friend through DG. As a pastor who works (exclusively) with healthcare students and professionals, I really appreciate this article and see all the challenges you mention among our community here in Philadelphia.
I also really respect the way you encourage women in, or considering, healthcare to find ultimate value in Christ rather than their work. A lot of voices seem to either encourage avoiding/leaving medicine altogether, or, subtly prioritizing it at the expense of balance in other areas. Thanks for offering a balanced, Christ-centered perspective!
Hi Bryan, thanks so much for your feedback and comments. Do you work at a medical school? I’m so encouraged to hear of your ministry among healthcare professionals; the landscape is desolate, even though at its core medicine taps into profoundly spiritual issues. Re: a message to women, I think it’s such a hard dialogue, because the issue of women in medicine strikes so many nerves with regard to women’s rights, feminism, stereotyping, etc. There is a lot more emotional baggage and unspoken expectations among female colleagues. In the competitive and highly charged environment of medicine, especially in medical school when anxieties and personal insecurities are at their height, it’s a real challenge to ask questions that point us toward the Gospel. . . which is where the answer lies in all situations!
Thank you so much for your ministry, and God’s blessings upon you and yours.
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Hi Katie, I’m just seeing this now after returning from a medical missions trip to Central America. To answer your question, I work with the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), a national ministry serving healthcare students and professionals. In that role, I travel around to 7 different medical and dental schools in our area, in addition to supporting professionals in various ways.
Thank you for your encouraging words. It is a ‘desolate’ time where healthcare often threatens to take on a role much larger than God ever intended. And yet, there is so much capacity for good, so we press on and do our best by God’s grace.
Thank so much you for your own ministry. I’ve observed the dynamics you talk about, but as a female physician you are in a much better position to address them!
Thank you, this is a helpful read. I’m a Christian med student who is also frustrated with all the competitiveness of med school. I am afraid residency is going to be worse when I get there. Do you have any advice for choosing a specialty that gives us as Christians more time to put God first? I’m not competitive for dermatology or radiology. I’m not a surgeon by mentality, but I like procedures. I’m considering internal medicine, then pulmonology and critical care, or maybe anesthesiology. I like other subspecialties in internal medicine, but I won’t do cardiology as their life seems to leave no time for anything else. Maybe hematology and oncology as the culture is compassionate and I like that. Most of all I just want more time with God and church family. It is a difficult to be a doctor and a Christian.
Hi Michael, these are all great and tough questions. Before I delve into them too deeply — in what year of medical school are you? Have you finished any of your clinical rotations yet? Please email me: email@example.com. If you can please give me a sense for how far along the path you are, I can offer counsel more effectively. In the meantime, Pastor Tim Keller discusses a useful framework for thinking about vocation: to discern your calling, consider your 1) affinity, 2) ability, and 3) opportunity. He argues that calling becomes appreciable where all three converge. You can read more here: http://dailykeller.com/discerning-your-calling/
I look forward to hearing from you.
Such a wonderful article Katie, and thank you for the honesty and transparency you bring to the misplaced values in the medical education system. As you describe, it’s unfortunate to have to feel naive for going to medical school solely because you deeply care about helping people, and then upon getting into the system realizing how competition-driven it is, with emphasis on research or papers or one specialty over another. I have often felt like I’m struggling through it alone, but it is reassuring to hear others reflect on the same struggle and not have to doubt that I belong in this field as much as everyone else.
Absolutely Nikol! The experience can be so disenchanting, and seem somehow warped and corrupted. We go into a field with compassion at its core, and yet the path there tempts us into deceit, idolatry, and self-righteousness. The means seems completely at odds with the principles undergirding the end goal. Please know that you are not alone in your struggles, and that the field needs faithful followers of God to minister to His sick and downtrodden. Thank you for your dedication, and I pray for discernment and fortitude along the way.
Katie, I loved this article that you wrote. I am currently in PA school, and it is definitely not competitive like medical school, but I still put the pressure on myself. One line resonated with me tremendously, “How can I have a mediocre performance on a test, and then expect to save a life?” I push myself way too hard believing that I can learn everything and expecting to one day save a life on my own. And I leave God behind. Your encouragement to remember who we serve and to worship as we work. Anxiety and fear of failure comes quicker to me than joy and wonder in the trenches. If you have any further advice for a current student struggling to learn how to lay down the idol of perfection at God’s feet, I would love it. Your article was truly an answer to prayers that I have had for months, so thank you for writing!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Amanda! Navigating secular medicine while focusing on whom we serve is a constant challenge. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help in any way.