Health Science and Christianity: How Faith Influences the Approach of Health Care Providers
Husband and wife Cody and Alex Koontz both graduated with health science degrees from Grace College: Cody with a pre-physical therapy concentration and Alex with a pre-med concentration. Their time in Grace’s pre-health program helped them discover and articulate the relationship between health science and Christianity.
Now, seven years after graduating, the couple has put this knowledge to work, serving countless individuals in a way that emulates Christ — from Cody’s personal training clients to Alex’s patients in the hospital.
Here are four ways the couple has seen their faith influence their approach to health care.
Practicing with Excellence
Alex: When I think about how Grace shaped me and my worldview, I think of the word excellence. My professors called us to excellence — for a purpose. As healthcare providers, we offer people a service, and it’s never their best day when we are doing that. In order to provide treatment in a way that honors God and therefore gives patients the best possible treatment, we must hold ourselves to an excellent standard and do our very best. It’s an honor to be in that position.
For me, that concept has carried over from studies and academics to residency, where I am working very hard for long hours and doing jobs that are not always very fun. But I do this knowing that my work serves a greater purpose because God has called me into this line of work. And ultimately, He has called me to excellence because that is what His image-bearers deserve.
Viewing Patients as Image Bearers
Cody: Like Alex said, it’s usually not someone’s best day when they are receiving healthcare, so they may not respond to me and/or the diagnosis positively. But I’ve found it helpful to patients (and even beneficial to outcomes) to keep in mind the patient’s humanity and that they are created in the image of God. Even though I see them in a broken time, and they might even be angry at me for trying to help them, they should be treated with dignity and receive the highest quality of care regardless of how they are treating me. This perspective helps me emulate what Jesus did for me in a small way by simply trying to take really good care of people.
Remembering the Spiritual and Emotional Needs of Patients
Cody: Behind the physical injuries, there is often an emotional and spiritual need. Knowing this allows me to seek to understand patients before trying to be understood by them, and my chief priority becomes knowing patients and caring well for them. This alliance can help patients trust us as healthcare providers. To be truly known and loved are things we ultimately find in God, but I’ve found that these can be applied in the workplace, too – especially in fields as relational as physical therapy and personal training.
Seeing Science and Christianity as Cooperative
Alex: Science and Christianity are often pitted against each other as opposite or opposing ideologies. That is just not the case at all -– and I learned that at Grace. God created science, so he cares about science. God cares about discovery. God cares about evidence-based medicine. He cares about research. These things are often touted as man’s accomplishments, but modern medicine and healthcare are created by God, and He knows all about them.
I strongly believe that God created our minds; He is the One who enabled all of the modern discoveries. The modern institution of medicine is a tool that we can use to heal just as He healed in the Bible. Much of my thinking about this matter stems from the professors who taught me at Grace and the School of Science and Engineering which acknowledged that this is God’s work in the world. Now that I’m practicing medicine, I am able to treat people, believing that modern medicine is a tool He uses to heal.
Are you looking for a STEM degree that champions the intersection of science and Christianity? The School of Science and Engineering at Grace has everything from health science to engineering, environmental science to medical imaging.
Read more about how we integrate Christianity and science through our Faith, Science, and Reason class required for all of our students.