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At a Given Moment – Faith Matters in Healthcare Encounters

By Graham McAll
March 2012 | Review by Tim Rowell
  • Publisher: Christian Medical Fellowship
  • ISBN: 978-0-906747-41-4
  • Pages: 182
  • Price: 8.00

Book Review

At a Given Moment – Faith Matters in Healthcare Encounters
Graham McAll
Christian Medical Fellowship
182, £8.00
ISBN: 978-0-906747-41-4
Star Rating: 0

This is a very readable book which is written by an experienced GP for Christians in all the health-care professions. It has a particular focus on the more long-term relationship of GPs with their patients in the community.

The authors’ thesis is that understanding and discussing a patients’ worldview is essential if we are to truly appreciate their response to disease and to our suggestions about managing it. Moreover, he suggests that there is an increasing reluctance to discuss worldview that needs to be overcome. McAll believes that both those with faith and those without, need to be open and willing to discuss spiritual issues.

This is a very live issue currently with a number of high profile cases brought to the attention of the General Medical Council and the Nursing governing body involving Christians who have shared their faith with patients or offered to pray with and for them.

Graham McAll includes anecdotes from different fields of medicine and many of these are very helpful and some very moving indeed.

I found the chapter on Spiritual history-taking particularly useful and those on end-of-life care and prayer were very gripping and full of compassion.

The chapter I found least convincing was chapter 12: “Is it possible to be like Jesus?”  He suggests that perhaps our role as Christian medics is to become “salve” for our patients. He quotes Revelation 3.17-18 where John is instructed to write to the church at Laodicea and rebuke them for their lukewarm relationship with Jesus. The salve that they are encouraged to buy from Jesus is one that will help them see how “pitiful, poor and blind” they truly are in their Christian lives. To apply this to our work with patients was confusing and uses those verses out of context.  

As I was reading this I found it opened my eyes to more possibilities of sharing my own faith with my patients. I had an opportunity to discuss the bibles’ teaching on marriage with a young Muslim patient and was encouraged when I remembered other times when it had been helpful to “prescribe truth” and to pray with or for patients when the timing was right.

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