The Catholic Medical Association’s annual Medical Student and Resident Boot Camp and Leadership Training Meetings had record breaking attendance despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic forced the CMA to switch gears last minute and plan its first ever virtual event.

The event, organized by The Medical Student and Resident Boot Camp Committee, chaired by Dr. Frank McNesby and the Leadership Training Meeting Committee chaired by Dr. Thomas McGovern, along with the Board of Directors, proved to be a great success.

“Masterful job today,” said participant Regional Director Dr. Paul Carpentier. “Great Meeting.  Great flow. Perky, up-beat, concise, exactly the info we needed. I am very impressed. Plus, I didn’t have to fly to Chicago!”

Past President Dr. Lester Ruppersberger agreed, adding “Adversity sometimes brings out the best efforts. God has a plan. Great job with the Boot Camp and Leadership meeting!”

By the time the U.S. declared the coronavirus pandemic a national crisis, things were just being finalized for the in-person week-long Medical Student and Resident Boot Camp that is an intensive formation experience of prayer, study, practical training, and mentoring with leading Catholic Medical Association physicians, priests, and moral theologians.

Alongside the Boot Camp is the two-day Leadership Training Meeting in which members in leadership positions, or who want to take on a more active role in growing the CMA, can gather to hone their skills with an invaluable line-up of speakers, opportunities to network and share in camaraderie, mentor students in the Boot Camp and gain concrete action plans to take back and implement at the local level.

However, on April 27 the Board made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person meetings and turn to an online platform necessitating the revision of the Boot Camp schedule to fit into a two-day event and the Leadership Meeting to fit into a one day event.

“Considering the CMA had never done a virtual event before it went very smooth,” said Linda Donnelly, the CMA’s director of events. “What worked best was the dedication of the faculty of presenters with the leadership of Dr. Frank McNesby and Dr. Thomas McGovern. They put together an amazing virtual experience. The days flowed and kept the attendee’s attention. The trivia from Dr. McGovern did not disappoint!”

The last-minute change and hard work paid off as attendance increased from 111 total participants at both meetings last year to 195 total participants this year. The meetings were sponsored by CMA’s partner Solidarity Healthshare. Fr. Shawn Mahoney, director of the Newman Center at Temple University, said the live stream Masses throughout the three- day event.

“I am grateful to all of the people working behind the scenes to make the vision for these virtual meetings such a successful reality,” said Executive Director Mario Dickerson. “From board members, committee chairs, volunteers, Linda and the entire staff— all their hard work has really raised the bar for future events.”

For Dr. McGovern, the virtual meetings not only exceeded his expectations, but he too believes “these two virtual conferences will pave the way for greater outreach in other conferences, such as to pre-med students.” Expanding the outreach of the CMA was a major theme for the Leadership Training Meeting.

Already the CMA is moving to make the upcoming fall Annual Educational Conference a mixed event with both in-person gathering coupled with a virtual component for those unable to attend, allowing for greater participation and expanding its reach. The Annual Educational Conference, themed “Medicine’s Integrity: Reclaiming the Doctor-Patient Relationship” will be in San Diego and online on September 25 & 26, 2020.

“The conference today was exceptional,” said participant and Board Member Dr. Mary Keen. “I am inspired more than ever and less overwhelmed as I have decided to work 4 days per week and make real time dedicated for the CMA — a big step after 40 years of 80 plus hour work weeks.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s events with the 2021 Medical Student and Resident Boot Camp scheduled for June 13-20, 2021 and the 2021 Leadership Training Meeting scheduled for June 18-20, 2021, where the planning committees hope to give attendees the full experience as “there is nothing like the in-person experience,” said Donnelly. “We hope they can all join us next year in Mundelein!”


Individual Results:

  • First Place: Collin Filley – West Team (winning time: 19:34)
  • Second Place: Riley Ewen – East Team
  • Third Place: Thomas McGovern – East Team

Team Results:

  • Overall Winning Team: East!

(last year the West team won, so this is a change of hands!)


To The Catholic Medical Association’s 2020 Annual Educational Conference
“Medicine’s Integrity: Reclaiming the Doctor-Patient Relationship”
September 25 & 26, 2020 at
The Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
and Virtually

This year’s conference will be an in-person and virtual event because we know these are challenging times. Your safety and well-being is our top priority, along with your families, patients, and community. For some, well-being will mean coming together in-person in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania for support, prayer, and community. We are working closely with the hotel to ensure they are doing everything they can to ensure your safety through social distancing, boxed meals, cleanings, and so forth. For others, well-being will mean coming together virtually for excellent talks, prayer, and fellowship. The speakers will focus on national and cultural currents that might harm the doctor-patient relationship at the practical or personal level. How do we as Catholic physicians respond to these in a faithful, compassionate way? Join us personally or virtually and know that we look forward to caring for one another in the midst of this pandemic, so that we can be stronger Catholic witnesses to the integrity of medicine and reclaim the doctor-patient relationship.

Please note:
• The event will be a combination of live and pre-recorded sessions. All registrants will receive access to the talks from the entire conference. CME will be available on applicable talks.
• Onsite registrations will be on a first come, first serve basis due to the limitations of guests in the hotel.