The 15th Annual Medical Humanities Retreat was held April 11 and 12th at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. This year’s theme was “The Valley of Dry Bones: Breathing Life into Modern Medicine” inspired by Ezekiel 37:1-14. The keynote speaker was Dr. Mike Attas, the founding physician faculty member of the Medical Humanities Program. Dr. Attas opening address was “Death and Resurrection in American Medicine: Myths and Realities” in which he reflected on what he considered distortions of the vocation of medicine in American culture over the past 40 years of his practice.
After Dr. Attas’ address, he was presented with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Humanities. We hope to present this award each year and it is fitting that Dr. Attas is its inaugural recipient. In addition to the award, Dr. Attas was presented with a stunning icon of St Luke, commissioned by his wife Gail. The artist, Carol Perry, is a professor at Baylor University as well as an iconographer. The icon has special significance, representing as it does a follower of Christ who was also a physician.
Dr. Bill Hoy’s talk entitled “Taking a Breath When You Feel Like a Bag of Bones” took place on Saturday morning, followed by Dr. James Marcum’s “From Flesh to Bones and Back Again” after which there were breakout sessions and smaller discussion groups led by the faculty.
One of the most popular sessions during the retreat is the Q&A session with alumni, now in medical school, who returned for the event to share their experience and advice with current students. The day concluded with “Parables for Modern Medicine” from Dr. Attas, remarks from the faculty of the Medical Humanities Program, and a closing worship service.
The retreat has been at the very heart and soul of the Medical Humanities Program since its inception, and began as Dr. Attas’ vision for a way to help students reflect on medicine as a sacred vocation. This was the largest ever retreat, with over 100 students and guests registered. This year was especially important in reaching out to students from all over the university—not just medical humanities majors. We see the retreat as a very special ministry our program provides to anyone working in or around the health care professions—reminding us of the of the spiritual center of our vocation.