Deadly Medicine

I recently visited the U.S. Holocaust Museum. While there, I saw the “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” exhibit and spent a little time in the Wexner Center on the Nuremberg Trials. I hope to return some day and complete my tour.

While there I spoke with Dr. Patricia Heberer, a medical ethics historian. As is well known, The Nazis carried out experiments on eight to ten thousand involuntary human subjects. According to Dr. Heberer, these studies were often not soundly conducted and frequently were testing racist hypotheses (she gave an example of an attempt to prove that Aryan immune systems were better than French ones, which were better than Slavic ones, and so on down the supposed racial hierarchy).

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Kristan Hawkins

Kristan Hawkins

What I’m increasingly gathering about leadership is exactly what Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of SFLA, articulated to me last week. “It’s influence,” she said. It’s not responsibility or management or special knowledge. It’s earned in relationships.

Mrs. Hawkins drew her materials from The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, by John Maxwell. Leaders have:

  1. Good character, including integrity and kindness to followers and inferiors, not only to their customers
  2. Relationships with followers
  3. Knowledge, or awareness of timing and dynamic factors (e.g. when to invest, when to retreat, when to hire/fire, what next steps to take)
  4. Vision for the organization (and the world)
  5. Intuition, the ability to deal with things like staff morale and company energy and momentum
  6. Experience of past challenges and successes
  7. Ability in the chosen field

She also listed principles of leadership.
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Becoming a Physician in Trying Times


Dr. John Bruchalski after a delivery

Dr. John Bruchalski

“It is always a challenge to be the point of the spear,” Dr. John Bruchalski began in a slow, quiet tone. Five medical students and he were seated around a collapsible particle-board table, topped with a vase half-full of drooping sunflowers, in his slightly-shabby women’s clinic. There, in “the board room,” he gave us courage.

As much as I want to become a doctor, I am pretty depressed by the state of medicine today. I’ve known three PAs in my life, and two of them have (independently) told me that “the golden age [of doctoring] is over,” and becoming a PA is “the fastest way to get to do what [you] want to do.” Doctors are doing more paperwork, dealing with more lawsuits, and being subjected to more government regulations than ever before. They are seeing patients for shorter and shorter times; they are seen in a poorer and poorer light by the public; and their profession is yielding to self-destroying ethical choices.

As I applied to medical school and continued through my first year, I kept wondering: “is this the right profession? Should I be a nurse/practictioner, or a midwife, or a PA, or fertility care specialist, or a counselor, or a psychologist, or…? Am I sure? Should I pull out and cut my losses?”

I persevered. And for the first time, I felt really excited about that perseverance when Dr. Bruchalski admitted, “Everything’s imploding. [But] be encouraged–it’s actually an awesome time to be a doctor. There is hope, not because it’s getting better, but because there is love.” By this, he meant that there are great and widening opportunities to show love to patients and colleagues. Because of this love, he said, “when healthcare [implodes], we’ll still be standing…pro-life and filled with social justice.”

“It’s a perfect time to be a doctor,” he restated, “because you can make a huge difference.”

Tepeyac Family Center LogoDr. Bruchalski told us briefly about his conversion; as a resident, he performed, but he’s now the founder and director of the Tepeyac Family Center, a pro-life, OB/GYN, integrated healthcare practice with top notch medical expertise that cares for the whole person (according to their website). Next, he counseled us in ways to become a good physician.

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