“A Healthy Person with a Sick Soul is Still a Sick Person” – St. Giuseppe Moscati (1880-1927), “the holy physician of Naples”
You are an orthopedic physician, the patient is a woman in her early 40’s who you are treating for a simple fracture. She isn’t healing properly. You recognize signs of emotional, maybe even spiritual scars. Out of the blue she tells you that she once had an abortion. This is not the scenario you were trained to handle when you studied to become a doctor. What do you say? You’re a Catholic physician. Is she Catholic? Does it even matter?
This is precisely the void that members of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) are seeking to fill. Newly elected CMA President Dr. Jan Hemstad is facing a daunting task. There are over 350,000 primary-care doctors in the United States now, and only 1,400 are members of the Vatican-recognized Catholic Medical Association. And at current graduation and training rates, the United States faces a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. And with millions of people newly insured and seeking care, the demand for even more doctors will continue to grow.
The nation’s 426 medical schools offer a robust curriculum in the practice of medicine. What these schools lack is any sort of moral basis for practicing what has been learned. In fact, only 15% of physicians, upon graduation, take the Hippocratic Oath, which states among its two pages of declarations, “above all do no harm.”
CMA member Dr. Luis Vilella of Bismarck, North Dakota said when he graduated in 1988 from medical school, the Hippocratic Oath was taken by nearly all graduates. This leaves a void in the ethical formation of physicians according to Dr. Vilella….
Listen to Mark Armstrong’s Interview of Dr. Vilella…