Healthcare Education and Christian Faith
Reproduced with permission
Education in the healthcare professions presents particular challenges in
combining education, the profession and the care of the patient. Christians
in healthcare education should look to their faith for support and guidance
in addressing these issues.
Medical and dental students and residents are partially trained
healthcare professionals. Christian healthcare trainees are subject to the
same standards and guidance as are fully trained Christian healthcare
professionals (see Standards For Life*)
All authority is established by God. Healthcare trainees should respect
the authority of attending clinicians and others responsible for patient
care. In situations where there is a difference of opinion between a trainee
and those professionals in authority, excluding matters of conscience, the
trainee should respectfully state his or her opinion and reasons, and should
then honor the final decision of the person in authority. If the trainee
believes a patient may be harmed by the decision, he or she should tactfully
seek counsel from one or more experienced professionals.
Professional trainees should not place a patient at physical risk for the
sake of learning, but should seek supervision from others with more
experience or knowledge, when appropriate. They should not put themselves at
moral risk, but rather graciously decline to participate in any aspect of
training or patient care which would violate their conscience.
Healthcare in a teaching setting requires cooperation and communication
among many members of the professional team. This presents unique challenges
for the trainee in regard to patient privacy and confidentiality. Special
efforts must be made in such settings to retain and demonstrate the highest
respect for patients.
Trainees should be honest with patients about their level of training;
e.g. medical and dental students must not introduce themselves to patients
as "Doctor". They should likewise be honest with their professional
colleagues and in matters of documentation, never compromising their
integrity for the sake of being a "team player". They need to be honest with
themselves and with those to whom they report when they make mistakes.
Clinicians involved in the training of medical and dental students and
residents should exert proper supervision and authority without physical,
emotional or sexual abuse. Trainees should be treated with courtesy and
respect at all times and should not be asked or expected to expend
themselves to the point of endangering patients or of damaging their
personal or family lives. Conversely, the teacher should model balance in
their personal and professional lives and assist the trainee in establishing
the same. Christian healthcare educators should model the demeanor of Jesus
in His teaching and ministry.
Residents and students should be trained in all aspects of the well-being
of their patients, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and
spiritual aspects of health. The teacher should ensure that the patient's
care is not compromised by the inexperience of the trainee.
If a trainee in the healthcare professions expresses an unwillingness to
participate in an aspect of training or patient care as a matter of
conscience, that stance should be explored in a non-judgmental manner to
ensure that both parties fully understand the issue. The trainee's position
on matters of conscience should be honored without academic or personal
Healthcare trainees and educators should work together with compassion,
competence and integrity to enhance patient care and to strengthen
professional standards. Following the model of our Lord Himself in equipping
and sending disciples, health care education should ensure the excellence of
future practitioners and educators.
*See statements entitled "Principles of Christian Excellence in Dental
and Medical Practice," "Christian Physician's Oath," "Christian Dentist's
Oath," "Biblical Model for Medical Ethics," and "Sharing Faith in Practice."
Approved 1 May 1999 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with 56 in favor, 6
opposed, and 3 abstaining