Discerning the call to lead Life & Family Medical Clinic | Catholic Health Care Today

By Dr. Julie Schroeder

Call it a mid-life crisis if you will. Or maybe it’s just enough years of life experience that leads one to know that there are options in life and that those that seemed pretty scary before might be worth the risk now.

I always knew I would be a doctor. My mom tells stories of me watching medical shows at the age of 3. After high school, I looked for a college with a good pre-med program and landed at Val­paraiso Uni­versity in In­diana. I appre­ciated being able to integrate my faith with my science education. When it came time for medical school, I was fortunate to continue that integrated experience at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. Medicine is a science, but also an art. For me, and for many others, part of that art is rooted in our faith beliefs.

I entered medical school thinking I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. My first clinical rotation was surgery. Nope — didn’t like that. Next was pediatrics. Another no. (At this point my parents panicked a bit that I was going to decide “no” to the whole doctor thing.) Then I did my rotation in family medicine. This was it. Some seem to think family medicine is boring but I can tell you no two days are ever the same. The variety of ages, people and stories make me love being able to treat patients from birth to grave.

I have practiced family medicine in the Quad Cities for over 20 years with experience on both sides of the Mississippi River. I have been lucky enough to work for independent practices that have been willing to let me push the boundaries a bit to make my practice more relationship-based like it should be. However, the economic reality of health care today makes this a difficult thing to do and financially stay afloat. I have also been fortunate to work part-time, which has let me be active in my other roles that I cherish as a wife, mother and church member.

I found myself a few years ago wanting to make a change in my career. I prayed that God would let me know if that was the right thing to do then. I felt like I got a “no.” So, I stayed the course and continued to pray. About a year and a half ago, I felt the answer was changing. But what would I do next? I had ideas, but nothing firm. I really felt that God was challenging me to take a step out in faith. With no specific plan but the support of my family, I made the decision to leave my practice and see where God led me.

I attended a couple of conferences that brought new insight and knowledge but nothing definite. Then, out of the blue, I received an email last fall from a group trying to get a Christian-based, primary care clinic started in the Quad Cities. They had been looking for a provider for over a year. Now this was interesting! We talked, we prayed. I don’t remember praying for patience, but I must have, because God’s timetable for this project was about a year behind mine. I thought I could open this clinic by January 2020, then March … June … August. God willing, it will be next month, November 2020.

We all know God’s timing is the best timing; it is just usually easier to see that in hindsight. My time off allowed me to help my parents and in-laws through some medical crises. I got to take a three-week trip of a lifetime with my husband and our teenagers that would have been impossible this year. I was home for all the highlights and then lowlights of my daughter’s senior year. I got to spend so much extra time with my family through quarantine. All priceless.

Now it seems the hurdles that have slowed me down are falling in a hurry. I am so excited to be partnering with Life and Family Educational Trust to open the first direct primary care clinic in the Quad Cities. I will not only be allowed, but also encouraged to practice medicine — both the science and the art — from a place of love as modeled by Christ. I look forward to sharing more about Life & Family Medical Clinic in Bettendorf soon.

If you find yourself in the position to make a significant change in your life, first pray and then listen. Be willing to take the step in faith and then trust in God’s planning and timing.

(Dr. Julie Schroeder is the medical director of the Life & Family Medical Clinic, opening soon in Bettendorf.)

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Respect life, and one another

 

In his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“Gospel of Life”), published in 1995, Pope John Paul II cited the Second Vatican Council on the infamies opposed to life itself. Those infamies included “any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person … whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain….”

Inspired by the 25th anniversary of the pro-life encyclical, the U.S. bishops chose the theme ‘“Live the Gospel of Life ‘to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps’” for Respect Life Month, which began Oct. 1. “The encyclical passionately reaffirms the Church’s constant teaching on the value and sacredness of every human life and the Respect Life program resources reflect that life-affirming spirit,” says Bishop Thomas Zinkula.

The questions each of us need to ask ourselves are these: How am I demonstrating respect for every human life? What am I doing to encourage respect for every human life in my home, the public square, in my conversations with others and in my comments on social media?

Clearly, the “infamies” opposed to life itself in 1965 and 1995 persist in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a glaring light on the misery that is a consequence of failing to follow the Gospel. The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) identified several threats to human dignity that the Catholic Church is addressing:

• Abortion. More than two-thirds of abortions in Iowa are through medication rather than surgery, the ICC reports. According to Human Life Action, the abortion industry is working to make it easier to obtain the medication, including through the mail. The federal Support and Value Expectant (SAVE) Moms & Babies Act would impose restrictions to counteract those efforts. The bill did not make it to the Senate floor for debate. Please ask Congress (congress.gov) to bring this issue to debate.

Continue to support a constitutional amendment to clarify that the Iowa State Constitution does not contain a fundamental right to an abortion.

• Temporary Protected Status. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 200,000 individuals living legally in the United States. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) say TPS countries such as El Salvador and Haiti cannot adequately handle the return of TPS recipients and their families, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Many of these family members are U.S. citizen children facing life without their parents and uncertain futures. Ask President Trump (www.whitehouse.org) to rescind his decision, for the sake of families.

• The American Dream and Promise Act. This legislation would give DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, a path to citizenship. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives more than a year ago. Please ask U.S. Senators Charles Grassley (grassley.senate.gov) and Joni Ernst (ernst.senate.gov) to take up this legislation in the Senate.

• Immigrants as Essential Workers. Immigrants and refugees are among the many essential workers in our country. “Immigrants comprise 31% of U.S. agricultural employees … [and] they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation’s food supply chains,” said Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. He chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Migration. Join him and his fellow bishops in urging Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts. Email Congress to support legislation that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working, and contributing to our country. Participate in an action alert (https://tinyurl.com/y2ayfn4h) asking for relief actions on behalf of all immigrants. Read about the Iowa bishops’ support for DACA recipients and asylum seekers (https://tinyurl.com/yyfj2e2j).

• Death Penalty. The Trump Administration has resumed federal executions. Persons convicted of crimes must be held accountable but also receive the opportunity for rehabilitation and restoration. Building on his predecessors’ opposition to the death penalty, Pope Francis approved a revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church stating that the death penalty is inadmissible. Ask President Trump and Attorney General William Barr (www.justice.gov) to stop the executions.

• Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The church opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide and offers resources that address palliative care and hospice. Read the Vatican’s news release on this topic (https://tinyurl.com/y5u8pkoo).

Finally, read the “Gospel of Life” (https://tinyurl.com/ve9er96) for a solid foundation in church teaching on respect for life. Visit the respectlife.org website for resources to apply these teachings to today’s realities.

Pope John Paul II said, “Evangelium Vitae” was “meant to be a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability…” It also serves “as a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor
arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org

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40 Days for Life starts Sept. 23

IOWA CITY — Pro-life advocates are invited to participate in this year’s 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil Sept. 23-Nov. 1. The coronavirus pandemic prevents a kick-off event this year. Instead, Johnson County Right to Life is offering complimentary 40 Days for Life resources to provide encouragement and guidance for prayers and fasting.

These materials include a copy of Day 41 Magazine, a devotional guide, the book “The Beginning of the End of Abortion,” a wristband and button pin. Participants may sign up to receive these materials by visiting www.JCRTL.org or by calling (319) 855-8475.

During the vigil, participants may pray in front of Emma Goldman Clinic or from home. Anyone participating in person must follow CDC guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. For more information go to www.40daysforlife.com/iowacity .

“Our hope for this upcoming 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil is to bring together members of our community to pray, fast and peacefully advocate for an end to abortion and offer resources to women in need,” said Sheryl Schwager, executive director of Johnson County Right to Life.

40 Days for Life is a peaceful, prayerful and effective pro-life campaign that organizers say has helped save 17,226 known lives from abortion, led to the conversion of 206 abortion workers and seen 107 abortion centers close, with 20 closed in Iowa.

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