Joseph Pearce: Healing through a Fairy-tale

Those who work in healthcare are no strangers to the struggles their patients face in the areas of suffering and addiction. As ones whose work is to heal, we are brushing against the hurt underlying the physical symptoms we diagnose, but how do we navigate the messy waters of another person’s suffering and their methods of coping?

It was G.K. Chesterton who once wrote, “The more truly we can see life as a fairy-tale, the more clearly the tale resolves itself into war with the dragon who is wasting fairyland.” Through the lens of a story, we are often provided an understanding to our own human psychology that provides unprecedented value to our approach to healing.

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Joseph Pearce, writer of the recent book, “Bilbo’s Pilgrimage” and Director of the Aquinas Center for Faith and Culture, will be speaking on the connection between Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series and its way of imaginatively reflecting on reality in a lecture titled, “Suffering, Addiction and Healing in The Lord of the Rings.” This lecture, presented by St. Thomas Health, will be held on October 21st at Saint Cecilia Academy on the Dominican Campus.

If you live in the Nashville area, we encourage you to consider attending Joseph Pearce’s lecture and to be inspired to see the struggles & addictions that you and your patients face in a whole new light.

Please view this flyer for more information about the event and the availability of CME.

Contact mdreger@sth.org for more information and to RSVP.

Feature Friday: Thinking with your heart

Siloam Institute of Faith, Health and Culture:

I am glad that trainees coming to Siloam get to work under clinicians who think with their heart.

Originally posted on Siloam Family Health Center:

Feature Friday is our space to highlight stories that have touched our hearts at Siloam. We want to share these life-changing stories with you — our supporters, friends, and family — so you can experience them along with us.

This week we will chronicle the story of a patient seen by Dr. Kristin Martel who recently came back grateful for Dr. Martel’s ability “not to think with her head, but to think with her heart.”

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No magic solution…

The Siloam Institute offers clinical rotations to nearly 40 health professional trainees annually. Their rotation at Siloam helps them to deepen their understanding of how to engage persons living in poverty, work cross-culturally, and learn how to integrate behavioral health and spiritual care into their practice of medicine.

Click the video below to watch Samaiya Mushtaq reflect on a particular patient encounter stating, “I did not offer them a magic solution to their health problems, but I think they felt a little more healed after that visit.” Samaiya is a fourth-year Vanderbilt medical student who plans to pursue a residency in psychiatry.

Taking a lesson from impoverished nations

Photo Credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Photo Credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Siloam’s Community Health Immersion students worked to train refugee lay health workers for a more effective outreach to the refugee families in Nashville.  This work drew much of its inspiration from successful community health worker programs found in impoverished nations.

In a guest blog at Huffington Post, comments made by James Nardella (Lwala Community Alliance) resonate with our experience here in Nashville.

James writes:  “Scale and efficiency are important to moving health care goods and services….  But, when it comes to addressing the root causes for poor health in many places, scale can be a distraction. Delivering goods and services alone will not motivate people toward health seeking behavior.”  James goes on to point out that, “…health-seeking decisions are made at the family level.”

Read the full post of James’ excellent blog Heirloom Healthcare for the Poor by clicking here.

Upcoming Event – Grace Prescriptions

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As a Christian medical professional, treading the waters where faith and medicine intersect can seem murky with the feeling of being ill-equipped to approach the topic of faith with patients.  Yet it is this patient–provider relationship that provides such rich ground to plant seeds of spiritual hope in patients as they face their hours of deepest hurt and fear.

On the weekend of February 6-7th, Siloam will host Grace Prescriptions – a conference designed specifically for Christian medical practitioners to become equipped to integrate their faith with their practice.  Formerly known as “The Saline Solution,” Grace Prescriptions is a training paradigm pioneered by the Christian Medical and Dental Association.  Written by Bill Peel and Dr. Walt Larimore, the curriculum is designed to explore the topic of spirituality in healthcare and equip those of us in the medical profession to integrate faith into our practice.

We invite you to come and be a part of this weekend of gathering with other Christian healthcare practitioners and their teams from around the Nashville region.  For more information, please visit our Events page as we announce further updates.

Registration opens October 6th.

Medicine: Art or Science?

At our Spring 2014 Fundraising event, Siloam Family Health Center had the pleasure of featuring Wendell Berry speak on “The Health of a Community.”

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As a Kentucky farmer, poet, essayist, and novelist, Wendell Berry may seem like an unlikely voice to speak into the matters of health and the work of medicine, but when one leans in to hear him speak, there’s an uncanny sense of insight that unveils the shadows of our modernity and brings truths to light.  His perception introduces a new way of thinking about health, where the body is more than a sum of its parts, like a machine, where the work of medicine is something much more meaningful than the tinkering of that  “machine.”

His essay, “Health is Membership,” explores this idea even more as Wendell Berry wrestles between the art and science of healing.

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world.  I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.  I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.”

With this thought that “health is wholeness,” Wendell proposes the notion that the work of medicine comes from love and can no longer fit within the confines of standardized practice alone—that seeking efficiency within medicine is a deficit when it allies with the paradigm of human health as a science alone, that the work of medicine should come from a place of love if it’s goal is healing in the truest sense of the word.

Delivered as a speech at a conference in Louisville, Kentucky in October 17, 1994, we invite you to read the full essay here.

Lay health workers trained by Siloam students

“I‘m too much glad to see you because you are Nepali.” Greetings like this one from a Nepali man bring joy to 19-year old Anita Nepal who loves helping people in the Nepalese community of Nashville.  Anita, born in a refugee camp in Nepal to Bhutanese parents, was recently trained as a lay health worker by pre-medical students participating in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion program. Nashville’s Nepali community – mostly made up of refugees from Nepal and Bhutan – appreciate the cross-cultural understanding that Anita brings as she teaches within her community on the health topics she recently learned.

“Many of the Nepali people do not understand the health care system in America,” says Anita who works full-time in housekeeping at a local hospital. They struggle to know how to make appointments to see a doctor or how to get medicine from a pharmacy because as Anita says, “… in Nepal there were no appointments or prescriptions…you just show up and ask for what you need.”

“I learned many things – I can help many…”

For Siloam’s six-week Community Health Immersion program, pre-medical students were recruited from around the country to live in a refugee apartment complex in southeast Nashville where they trained nine lay health workers like Anita from the neighborhood. Training topics included preventative care like oral health, nutrition, and exercise, along with health navigation topics like how insurance works and the difference between an emergency room and a primary care clinic. Beyond learning how to teach lay health workers, the pre-medical students also explored how to see the vocation of medicine as a calling and to see how to care for patients as whole persons as Jesus did.

The pre-medical students’ work with the lay health workers is making a lasting impact.  The oral health topic alone made an immediate impact on Anita’s family of five who were resettled a year ago in Nashville after spending 21 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. “We did not know about dental floss or how many times each day to brush our teeth or for how long,” Anita says. “Now we do. I learned many things – I can help many Nepali and Bhutanese people.”

Lay Health Workers and CHI Students pose outside their apartment - 2014 - cropped

Pre-medical students and lay health workers pose outside following a training session. Lay health workers include (L-R) Samson Sarki from Bhutan (in turquoise), Paulos Ezekiel from Eritrea (in purple), and Anita Nepal from Nepal (in blue and red). Pre-medical students (L-R back row) include Will Davies, Stewart Goodwin, Kenny Namkoong, Frances Cobb, Caleb Huber, Will Tucker, along with Reinie Thomas (kneeling), and Lauren Roddy (in blue on right). Pre-medical student Chelsea Travis is behind the lens!