Attending medical school as a faithful Catholic in the contemporary era has become increasingly difficult. Catholic medical students encounter challenging moral situations across all medical specialties throughout their education, whether in the lecture hall and small group discussions in the preclinical years or on the wards during clinical rotations.
From promoting an aggressive abortion agenda to foisting gender reassignment procedures on vulnerable adolescents, our current medical culture has established beliefs that reject God as our Creator and contradict the truth regarding the nature of the human person as a creation in God’s image and likeness. Furthermore, Catholic students often find themselves in the uncomfortable but worthy position of rebutting these popular moral opinions in discussions with their peers and the physicians they encounter during medical school.
To better equip Catholic students to perform this admirable and necessary task, the Catholic Medical Association Student Section set out to create a resource for students that could strengthen their understanding of Catholic bioethics and help them navigate difficult moral dilemmas encountered during medical school. The CMA-SS was additionally inspired by the success of widely used online medical education platforms such as Sketchy, Pathoma, and Online MedEd, as well as online evangelization tools like Ascension Presents. It aimed to create a similar web-based tool for Catholic medical students.
These considerations ultimately prompted the project which is now known as The Healthcare Renewal in a Virtual Environment, or Operation THRIVE. The goal of this endeavor is to create an online repository of videos produced by Catholic physicians and other experts that delves into areas of Catholic bioethics that medical students will face during their training. This resource will serve to strengthen Catholic students’ moral formation and enable them to be confident witnesses of Jesus Christ during their training and beyond.
In October 2020 after defining these goals, the CMA-SS put together an Operation THRIVE team to take action. The team brainstormed potential video producers based on their individual experiences at the CMA Student and Resident Bootcamp, CMA Annual Educational Meetings, and other encounters with Catholic physicians.
Next, a survey was sent out to the CMA-SS to identify topics in Catholic bioethics that garnered the greatest interest and applicability to Catholic medical students. Once topics were identified, the team reached out to individual physicians with expertise in those fields for help producing pertinent videos. The team also asked the main CMA office for assistance and recommendations regarding video editing, receiving generous support from the staff.
Currently, the Operation THRIVE team has received several videos from physicians regarding issues within the specialty of OB-GYN, as well as conscience protections. These are now undergoing the editing process.
Operation THRIVE has been blessed with substantial progress and hopes to continue this momentum in 2021. The next steps will involve posting final videos to an online forum where Catholic students can view them. Once this is accomplished, the team will continue to expand the library to encompass a larger variety of topics.
Operation THRIVE would not be possible without the dedication of the following individuals: Sarah Becker, Jill Blumenfeld, Nigel Gascon, Michael McCarthy, Dillon Stull, Anna Styrczula, Francesca Ursua, and Hannah Zuercher.
Please pray that Operation THRIVE will accomplish the goal of forming faithful Catholic physicians that will bear witness to Jesus Christ and His Church.
Thomas Seykora is a third-year student at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He serves on the Operation THRIVE committee and is the Region 2 director for the CMA-SS.