Summer Medical Institute 2017

Fresh Insights from a Medical Student in the Field

by Laura Layer July 14, 2017

 

Summer Medical Institute is in the home stretch!

 

Twenty-three students, about half from Philadelpha and half from all over the country, have been going door-to-door in West Kensington since June 25 (through July 15).

In addition to providing medical care and health screenings to our under-served neighbors, they have been building relationships and sowing the seeds of the gospel.

Please continue to pray for God's word and will to be bear lasting fruit in the hearts of the patients served, as well as in the hearts of the students.

Laura Layer

Director, Medical Campus Outreach

Here are some fresh insights from an SMI student:

 

Today completes our first full week of SMI so far! Although it’s been tiring. My time here has been such a blessing. I’ve learned so much about opportunities to discuss spirituality in the context of medical care from the clinicians who came to speak to us about bringing Christianity to healthcare and the members of the community who have welcomed us into their homes.

Spirituality in medicine has been something I’ve always sought to learn more about since I decided to become a doctor. However, I never saw it in practice. SMI truly helped me learn that it was possible to merge the two and how one can navigate conversations about spirituality, even with people you’ve just met. After about five days of door-to-door health screenings, I’ve met some wonderful and delightful families, including some that have gone through some very tough times. I was really encouraged by their kindness and willingness to be proactive about their physical and spiritual health.

One big thing I’ve learned from my first week of SMI is to rely on the power of prayer. I’ve never prayed with a stranger before beginning SMI. In fact, I’ve never done any missionary work beforehand. So this is an exciting but nerve-wraking time for me. I've learned to rely on God when you don’t know what to do. For example, after encountering an urgent matter today with a patient, I was internally panicking but I made sure to make time for prayer and have God take complete control. As students in healthcare, we can only do so much to help, so it’s important to rely on God first and foremost.

In a place like North Philly, it might be easy to assume that many people wouldn’t want anything to do with missionaries like us, dressed in scrubs, walking through the streets like lost puppies. Yet from my experience so far, many people have shown us great respect and approached us with genuine concern for their own health. Not only have they been willing to have us screen them, they’ve also been so open to prayer. I saw immediately how much more rested they appeared after we prayed with them.

Throughout this process, I feel like I am slowly learning how to make the transition from medical topics to spiritual topics. I’ve learned to ask patients how they’ve been doing and if they have any concerns or stressors that they’d like us to pray for. Although there are times I get frustrated with my lack of confidence, eloquence, and conversational finesse, I know God is working through us to help these people in our own small way.