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Member Spotlight

CMA: Forming Physicians Who Imitate Jesus Christ

May 14, 2024

By Dr. Maggie Hartman

Dr. Maggie Hartman, center, with fellow CMA members.

One of the great pleasures of the third and fourth years of medical school is rotating with physicians who vary widely in specialty, personality, office set-up, and practice size. My personal experience of these clinical years was happily influenced by my membership in the Catholic Medical Association; several physicians who I met through our organization generously offered me the opportunity to complete rotations with them. That experience changed the course of my medical career.

Whenever I spent time with a CMA physician member, I found myself in a clinical environment significantly different from others where I’d worked. Feeling themselves to have been entrusted with a specific medical mission from the Lord, these doctors seemed intentional about almost all aspects of their practices. Their offices were often surprisingly beautiful and committed to displaying our rich Catholic inheritance of sacred art and sacramentals – a very Benedictine emphasis on hospitality and welcoming each patient as if he or she were Christ. They asked different, additional questions during their patient encounters than those I had been trained to use, questions targeting emotional and spiritual realities that we know as Catholics to be profound components of an individual’s health.

Physicians in women’s health gifted me with an alternative, more positive vocabulary than that which I learned in medical school for talking to women about their fertility. The wizened naturalness of the way in which these doctors, for example, consistently referred to conception as a great miracle or to the youngest fetuses as persons was a stark contrast (and welcome source of hope!) to the way I had heard these topics discussed in other settings. Additional admirable practices I have witnessed include physicians prioritizing daily Mass, praying with their patients, providing patient resources for burying miscarried children, spending time in spiritual formation with their office staff, and forgiving patient debts, though this list certainly is not exhaustive.

Because of these experiences, I consider myself one of the most fortunate medical students in my class. I have had the privilege of truly “walking in the dust of the rabbi,” so to speak, spending large amounts of time with those inspiring doctors who seek to imitate Jesus Christ and to encounter Him in each of their patients. Importantly, were it not for having my third-year OB/GYN rotation with two CMA physicians, I’m not sure that I would have experienced my own call to the specialty, nor am I confident that I would have persevered through the difficulties of my fourth-year rotations without several of our members’ friendship and advice.

In sum, while I would like to think that I entered medicine with the intention of serving Jesus Christ in His suffering members, my time in medical school has taught me that human weakness requires the witness and instruction of those ahead of you on the way in order to maintain any such purity of intention in our secular culture. Praise be to God, I have found such witness and instruction in the Catholic Medical Association!

Dr. Maggie Hartman is starting her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology this summer and is the chair of recruitment and membership for Novus Medicus, a student, resident and young physicians outreach of the Catholic Medical Association.