October 15, 2011

A Reflection on 2011 CMA Conference

By Gil Harmon
Looking back on my second CMA National Conference, I honestly feel that I can only express my extreme gratitude and joy by praising God and thanking Him for all that He provides us.
This year’s national conference could not have come at a better time in my medical school career, a time when I am nervous about choosing my specialty and honestly struggling to balance my work responsibilities with the time needed to lead a fulfilling, God-centered life. I feel like God placed this 3 days of conference right where I needed them to re-center my purpose in medicine and to rededicate myself to a life centered around Christ. I once read that it is the most important things in life that we need reminded of most often. This conference was my reminder.
If I were to summarize what the conference is, I would have to say that it is a spiritual retreat (not unlike some of the ones I went on during undergraduate) superimposed upon an educational morality and ethics conference. The two parts truly serve to compliment one another, feeding the intellect and soul at the same time. From the spiritual standpoint, Mass was available daily, concluding with one of the most beautiful celebrations of the Mass that I have ever been a part of. This beautiful celebration occurred on Saturday evening as the White Mass for the local CMA guild. It was celebrated by Archbishop Gomez from the Diocese of Los Angeles and concelebrated by 3 other bishops, along with the many other priests in attendance. The music was truly glorious, and I was brought to tears on multiple occasions just from the power and glory of God that was so truly present with all the doctors and doctors-in-training and other health professionals at the Mass. The joy of that Mass energized my prayer life and desire to be a better child of God.
The “spiritual retreat” aspect of the conference was also clearly present in the Eucharistic Adoration and confession time available but also in the Body of Christ as represented by all the amazing people present at the conference! I was so empowered by all the wonderful Catholic medical students, residents, physicians, and other healthcare providers working hard to live our faith to its fullest in medicine. Hearing about their stories and sharing my own times of trial while navigating the medical training process let me know that I am not alone. Not only do I have the power and strength of Christ to help me, but also the prayers and guidance of fellow Catholics doing the same thing all around the country.
I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the large educational component of the conference which served to inform us about some of the biggest bioethical issues that face doctors in medicine. The speakers were truly amazing, and they covered topics ranging from basic principles of morality to the specifics of brain death. We covered specific cases where ethical decisions can be difficult, particularly at the beginning and end of life. In all, I feel much more prepared on a very practical level to defend our faith and protect my patients when it comes to tough ethical situations.
In sum, as a member of the CMA-SS Exec Board I am proud to see the work that our organization has done and was especially excited to see all the students that were there in attendance! From the amazing food, to the amazing fellowship, from the time spent growing toward God to the enlightening educational points that we received, I am so thankful for my time at the CMA National Conference!

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