New Resource: Conscience in Residency

Written by Ana-Maria Dumitru, national chair, Medical Students for Life

Have you ever felt like you were the only person in the room who had a different opinion? Have you ever been afraid to speak up about something you fundamentally disagreed with? Have you ever wondered whether there would be room for you in the medical landscape of the future?

I’ve been there.  You’re not alone.

Being pro-life in medical school can be challenging. Being pro-life in residency can be even harder, depending on the specialty and the program expectations.

But conscience rights should be protected no matter what your beliefs are.

To borrow an explanation from one of my favorite sources, Fulton Sheen, who once wrote that conscience is like your own personal little government. You have a built-in system of determining right and wrong, setting up your own boundaries, and adjusting based on new choices you’re faced with and new information you’re presented with.

If you make a bad decision, your conscience imposes a penalty, which can take the form of a minor feeling like a twinge of guilt, or can take the form of prompting you to go back and take action to fix a mistake. Your conscience governs your actions and provides the framework within you can reach your fullest potential as an individual in society.

It would be wrong to ask you to ignore your conscience for the sake of your career. In fact, this would make you a conflicted doctor. We go through rigorous medical training in order to acquire the necessary knowledge with which to treat our patients, and we make a promise to our patients that we will always act with their best health interests in mind. In order to do this, we need to be free to abide by our own conscience.

Several pro-life physicians from across the country have just launched a tremendously impactful initiative to help encourage students like us to claim our conscience rights. The newly launched Conscience In Residency program is an online resource designed to provide the latest and best quality research and resources for students who want to practice evidence-based pro-life medicine.

It can be easy to get discouraged when you’re faced with attendings and colleagues who vocally disagree with you – but don’t be afraid! Wherever you are, at whatever phase of training, know that there is an entire network of likeminded people out there – and now, with this online resource, this network is at your fingertips. You can read more about what motivated these doctors to start this program here.

The website has launched, but it is not fully equipped yet, so be sure to check back soon for the latest!