This past weekend, University of Dallas pre-health students were invited to join MEDCON, a conference presenting interactive lectures on contested issues in the modern medical field and how to approach these practical aspects of healthcare with Catholic integrity.
“It was truly incredible,” said Mary Geddie, junior double Spanish and biology major. “MEDCON was the perfect blending of all UD’s philosophy, ethics, and theology core with the biology, psychology, and medicine we are taught as pre-med students.”
MEDCON is an annual conference sponsored by the Catholic Medical Association, a national organization begun in the early 20th century with the conception of a Catholic physicians’ guild founded by the Archbishop of Boston. The CMA now has guilds across the United States and is the largest association of its kind in existence.
The MEDCON educational and networking event was begun to “equip pre-health students with a Catholic vision of the joyful practice of medicine, connect them with potential mentors, and inspire them to treat patients with dignity.”
Though the conference is open to anyone, it is particularly geared towards undergraduate students considering careers as physicians, PAs, psychologists, nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
For a registration fee of $20, students were presented with networking opportunities as well as lectures from “renowned Catholic speakers in medicine, bioethics, theology, and law … for interactive sessions on topics ranging from gender ideology, women’s health, conscience protection rights, and discerning a vocation in medicine,” according to the Constantin Dean’s Office.
Dr. Jonathan Scrafford, a Wichita based obstetrician-gynecologist and head of his local CMA guild, was this year’s conference chairman. He encouraged the conference speakers to mingle and socialize with the students, as networking is a primary goal of the event.
Claire Wingfield, a freshman biochemistry major, utilized this opportunity: “Speaking to UD alumni who are now physicians was really impactful for me, because, as someone studying subjects outside the humanities, it can be really hard to have an adequate academic support system. There is a growing need for faithfully Catholic doctors and I am so thankful the Catholic Medical Association decided to invest in pre-med students and provide us with a place for mentorship as we come closer to applying to medical professional schools.”
According to Ryan Reedy, chief of staff for UD, potential collaboration with the CMA has been in the works since 2020 when President Jonathan Sanford and Dr. Thomas McGovern, the CMA’s young members advisory committee chair, discussed adding UD to the list of colleges hosting MEDCON.
Many students attended on Thursday, April 7 for the opportunity to hear McGovern give a talk on the suffering of Christ through a medical and historical presentation on crucifixion. This talk exemplifies the energy with which the Association interacts with young Catholics.
Through MEDCON and the student section of the association, the CMA takes their educational role seriously. They consider it vital to mentor, educate and support the next generation of physicians and medical workers in maintaining a Catholic and Hippocratic approach to medicine.
With the pandemic working its way out of the nation’s system, UD was very excited to finally host the conference and begin what promises to be a mutually-beneficial relationship with the national Catholic Medical Association. “MedCon is the first opportunity for us to work together,” said Ryan Reedy, “and we’re excited to have them on campus to share a Catholic vision of the practice of medicine with our students.”
Scrafford and the Association hope for UD to become part of a three-year rotation of host campuses, along with Benedictine College in Kansas and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
“[MEDCON] brought people together from UD, Arizona, Louisiana and beyond all united under Christ with the aim to serve His body through medicine,” said Geddie. “It reminded me of why I chose UD. This was the confirmation of my vocation for which I have been searching.” Based on our current students’ conference experience, it seems the return of MEDCON to the UD campus will be awaited eagerly.