Week 1 – First Impressions

What a whirlwind of a week! It’s been exhausting in many ways, but it has also been one of the most concentrated periods of learning I have had in a long while. The clinicians at Siloam have been immensely helpful in expanding my understanding of American healthcare, both with regard to how the system logistically functions and how Christian medical providers can (and should) strive to provide holistic, whole-person care for people of both physical and spiritual poverty. I am grateful for their wise counsel, generous spirit, and eagerness to teach; we CHI students are immensely blessed to have another five weeks with these men and women of God.

One of the highlights of the week was serving with Siloam at a health fair on Friday afternoon organized to educate and equip the largely-refugee community for healthy living. At the event, people could have their vision, blood pressure, and bone density checked, receive free first aid kits, and learn some basics about nutrition (e.g. how to maintain a balanced diet). Many who came brought children, the management of whom became the task of us CHI students. Inundated with a screaming hoard of hyperactive children, I quickly felt overwhelmed and under-prepared to entertain (or, at the very least, retain a semblance of management or control over) these children. The kids played ball and ran around for a decent amount of time, but a few grew bored and wanted to climb on me for piggy-back rides. Eventually, I relented and as I ran around with a giggling kid of my back screaming, “Faster! Faster!” I couldn’t help but feel like I was Luke Skywalker under Yoda’s training to become a Jedi.

Though it was certainly physically taxing, it felt good to relax and have fun with those persistent, relentless bundles of energy. Needless to say, it’s been a lot of fun working in the community with Siloam; I’m greatly looking forward to continue doing so over the next few weeks.Doezal, James- CHI 2013

James is one of six students participating in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion this summer.

Research fellow experiences the spiritual dimension of patient care

Leon Darghosian is a research fellow at Vanderbilt University who volunteers at Siloam as an Arabic interpreter.  He writes of his experience…

A friend introduced me to Siloam Family Health Center when I was looking for a place to volunteer ten months ago. Being a physician from Syria and doing research work at Vanderbilt, a volunteer role at Siloam would help me better know the community where I’ve lived for the last two years.

At first, Siloam sounded just like any other medical clinic that treats people but the longer I’ve been there the more I’ve come to realize that it is an extraordinary clinic.  I’ve always thought that the spiritual element does not factor into a physician’s career.  But it has become clear to me during my time at Siloam that the spiritual dimension can take place in treating patients.  During one busy shift, I saw Dr. Morgan Wills, whom I describe as a humble doctor, pray over his patient.  This was a very touching gesture that moved me to understand that as a doctor and as a person, I can serve and share God’s grace to everyone who comes in for healing.  This has changed the way I look at my career.

Two months ago, I was interpreting for Dr. Kristin Martel who was seeing an elderly patient who was coughing and holding her abdomen in pain.  After Dr. Martel’s treatment, I could tell by the look in the patient’s eyes that she was given extraordinary care.  All these experiences heightened my enthusiasm to practice medicine and incorporate the experiences that Siloam gave me.

My volunteering taught me the fundamental lesson of treating the whole person and treating every patient with compassion.  Being an international fellow, Siloam is home to me. I am at ease working with other volunteers and doctors.  There is something in the clinic and in the people inside of it that gives me a big reason to go and serve after my work.

Siloam is place where I experienced God’s presence.

Siloam is a place where God works through people.

Siloam is a place where you and I would want to be.