I found these open and personal thoughts by a young Episcopalian studying at Loma Linda University a rare insight into the struggles of a modern Christian medical student. Not only does one see a very thoughtful and spiritually sensitive soul, but his review of Loma Linda should make the faculty proud.
With my first year of med school for the most part finished, I have been reflecting back on the year and having conversations with friends about how this first year has changed us. The most obvious change is, of course, our knowledge of the human body and that is pretty exciting to me. But an experience like medical school changes a person in much deeper ways. When we arrived here we were regularly warned by the deans and by students further along that if we weren’t careful many of us would become cynical people who forgot our original altruistic or spiritual reasons for coming to medical school. As usual, I doubted that med school could change me in such a way. But looking back, I think med school has changed my personality and I’m pretty sure that it has not made me a better person. I think that the demands that our coursework puts on our time and energy can encourage a great degree of selfishness to grow in one’s personality. I have certainly seen that in myself. Free-time, when I wasn’t studying, became so valuable to me that I would rarely think of seeking the Presence of the Lord or of finding ways to serve others. Instead, free-time came to mean watching movies, reading blogs or occasionally working out. I also have thought less about my original ideals that I thought so much about when I entered medical school. Instead of dreaming of a future on the mission-field, I’ve begun to dream of a higher class rank or the possibility of a more competitive residency. The demands of medical school has encouraged my already perfectionist personality not only to demand more from myself but also to be more critical of those around me.
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Another conversation I’ve had with some of my classmates is a “what if” conversation considering whether we would have gone to some of the more prestigious schools we applied to had we been accepted. And there was a time when I would have said, “yes,” that if I had gotten into Harvard or Mayo Clinic that I would have gone there. But looking back on this year and considering things with the eternal perspective of the importance of my soul, I would have to say, “no.” Think what you will about Seventh-day Adventist theology, but I have to say that they have founded and nourished an institution where a Christian can become a doctor and where they can be affirmed and encouraged in their faith in Jesus Christ. For this I am very thankful to my Adventist brothers and sisters.