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Faith and Medicine

white tealight candles lit during nighttime

We’re having the #HealthXPH tweet chat on a Black Saturday, so I thought, why not discuss the topic of faith and the practice of medicine as we reflect on our faith and our relationship with God during this Holy Week. Perhaps we don’t often have conversations about faith even as we go about our work in the clinics or hospitals. I can’t recall if we’ve ever discussed this at #HealthXPH.

I still don’t know how to react when a patient says, Ang tiwala namin una sa Diyos, pangalawa sa inyo Dok. I remember having a patient with a poor prognosis who said this to me. And I wondered if it would be out of place for me to pray with her. Would that make the patient feel less hopeful or more sad? Would it make her more nervous if I implored God to help me heal her. Or as patients often ask, 50-50 na po ba? Would it ever be appropriate to say that one 50 is with God? For surely, it is all in God’s hands, a 100%.

T1. How has being a physician or health worker or patient deepened your faith?

I remember almost losing a patient I had been taking care of for years. His wife never left his side. She kept saying, Dok, may awa ang Diyos. I would see her praying the rosary at the bedside. And indeed, he got better and was able to go home. Jantos and Kiat (2007) propose four plausible mechanisms by which prayer delivers health benefits: prayer as a relaxation response, placebo, expression of positive emotions, and as a channel for supernatural intervention.

T2. What examples of faith have you seen in healthcare?

I remember as a resident that I had a dying patient with cannon ball lesions in the lungs. At rounds, our senior consultant said that we can try a course of IV hydrocortisone as a last resort. Much to our surprise, the moribund patient woke up and though his situation was still dire, he was able to go home and spend a few more weeks with his family before dying.

T3. What would you consider a medical miracle? Have you personally witnessed miracles in healthcare?

Happy Easter!


Jantos, M., & Kiat, H. (2007). Prayer as medicine: how much have we learned?. The Medical journal of Australia, 186(S10), S51–S53.

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