What happens every four years and has the potential to impact every part of the world for good? There are probably lots of answers to this question but the one I am looking for is the International Christian Medical Dental Association World Congress. It was held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, July 19-24.
What a privilege to attend this meeting along with more than 850 delegates from 90 countries. The chorus of the Congress theme song written especially for this event sums up the mood of our week together. “Bring your healing to the nations, Through our lives and through our hands, Bring your healing to the nations, Dear Lord, Change our lives and change our lands.” Each verse emphasized a different character trait of the Christian physician, including integrity, humility, giving hope, service, sincerity and fidelity.
From the moment I walked into the conference center I was encouraged. I hadn’t known what to expect, but immediately I felt surrounded by like-minded colleagues and quickly recognized many familiar faces. God has blessed me with many international relationships during our time in Ukraine.
Part of this uncertain expectation was fueled just two days before the opening when Flight MA17 from Amsterdam was shot down over Ukraine. For the Dutch this was a 9/11 experience. They lost the most lives on this flight and there were over 100 HIV/AIDS researchers on board. (I feared that some of my colleagues in Ukraine might have been on this flight, but fortunately none were on board.) So, having Ukraine written on my name tag presented instant opportunities to share what God is doing in Ukraine.
I came to the conference to learn, to fellowship and to network. God did not disappoint me. The initial days offered pre-conference streams. I chose the program run by PRiME (Partnerships in International Medical Education, www.prime-international.org). Already a PRiME tutor, I always look to learn new skills to become a more effective teacher. UMO partners with PRiME tutors in our annual medical student conferences, striving together to train, envision and empower doctors and other healthcare workers to practice and teach excellence in clinical practice, coupled with compassionate patient-centered care. This training is vitally needed in medical schools in Ukraine, indeed around the world.
The main congress opened bringing together students, young doctors and senior doctors. The theme was “Serve, Share, Shine.” Each morning Andrzej Turkanik, executive director of the Quo Vadis Institute, www.qvinstitute.org, presented a bible devotional based upon Titus. Keynote speakers Gisela Schneider (German specialist in HIV), John Wyatt (English perinatologist and ethicist) and Issam Raad (Lebanonese American specialist in Infectious Disease) daily presented one aspect of the theme.
During the afternoons we could choose from 28 seminars over two days. I chose Mentoring Students and New Graduates, The Challenge of Not Conforming in the Context of Changing Values (recognizing and dealing with corruption in medicine), Inter-generational Issues: Communication with the New Generation and Dealing of Attrition of Christian Medical Students and Young Doctors from ICMDA.
There was one free afternoon. I was pleased to be invited by the Ukrainian students attending the congress to accompany them to see a replica of Noah’s Ark. The exhibit was not so impressive but the time with the students was invaluable. To become better acquainted with and encourage the next generation of Christian physicians in their faith is one of our primary goals.
The week was full. Many old friends were reunited and new acquaintances were made. Now we wait to learn what God does through those who attended.