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US/ Towards the building of a person-oriented medical care

ELVIRA PARRAVICINI reports on some of the main outcomes presented during the 4th edition of MedConference, focused on the challenging question: What is it that urges us to care for others?

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This article is co-authored by Elvira Parravicini, Mark Basik, Lorenzo Berra, Enrico Grugnetti, and Costanza Raimondi.

In the flyer “A CALL TO BUILD ANEW” distributed by Communion and Liberation at the vigil of the presidential elections we read, “We don’t believe that the improvement in our country’s situation can come from politics alone. Rather, we propose that America needs a renewed commitment by individuals and associations to pursue the noblest human ideals with realism and a capacity for sacrifice. […] This task belongs to all of us and we earnestly commit ourselves to it.

A small group of medical professionals has been taking seriously this call to responsibility and , over the course of the past 4 years has been working towards the building of a person-oriented medical care. The outcome of this work has been presented yearly at the MedConference (here), a three-day event organized by The American Association of Medicine and the Person in the New York area.

What is it that urges us to care for others?” this is the challenging question that was posed to the distinguished speakers at the 2012 event.

On Friday night the audience, composed of physicians, nurses, medical researchers, students of medical and nursing school, coming from all US and Canada, is provoked by the words of Dr. Elvira Parravicini: “The need to meet together and discuss this issue is motivated by a constant need of regaining the original desire that had moved people to enter the medical field. Such desire, although present and clear with the decision of embarking in the medical profession, can be easily lost along the way”. Dr Parravicini continued, “The method is through the communication of working experiences where health care professionals are surprised by something new, unexpected and beautiful, within the routine of our everyday work”.

What inspires and sustains professionals whose jobs are devoted to the care of others? The protagonists of the 2012 MedConference are professionals with different medical roles who came together to explain the reason of their commitment to care for the suffering.

Dr. Alberto Costa is an associate professor of Medicine and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine. Dr. Costa has spent over 15 years investigating the pathophysiology and potential pharmacotherapeutic approaches to Down syndrome. To the question ‘What is it that urges you to care for patients?’ he answers, “[As my newborn daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome] all I could think is, she is my baby, she is a lovely girl and what can I do to help her? Obviously I was a physician and a neuroscientist who studies the brain. Here was this new life in front of me and holding my finger and looking straight in my eyes. How could I not think in terms of helping that kid?