RCMA: To get us started, tell us a little bit about your background (school, training, personal life, etc..)
Alex: I grew up in Salem, VA where I enjoyed running and hiking. From there I moved to Charlottesville, where I went to college at the University of Virginia. I always knew I wanted to go to medical school, and when I was studying at VCU School of Medicine, I developed a passion for Family Medicine.
Christine: I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley in California, about an hour outside of San Francisco. Then I travelled all the way across the country to complete my undergraduate studies at Columbia University, majoring in biochemistry. I have always had a love for the creative arts and was given the opportunity to explore my love of dance, classical music, and writing through my college years and afterward.
RCMA: When did you first get involved with CMDA?
Alex: I got involved during my first year of medical school
Christine: One of my friends asked if I would like to go to a CMDA meeting during my first year of medical school, and as they say, the rest is history! I remember meeting the Reads, the Armisteads, and the other CMDA students and council members and being so grateful to have such a supportive, friendly group of Christian classmates and mentors to walk with me through school. These meetings were a place for us not only to form strong bonds with fellow sisters and brothers but also to discuss important, sometimes controversial topics in a safe space. And not to mention, the dinners provided each week by the council members were delicious. I have tried to attend as many CMDA meetings as I could during my time at VCU medical school, and those meetings often were the highlight of my week.
RCMA: What CMDA leadership roles did you participate in while in Medical School at VCU?
Alex: I was the Service Coordinator
Christine: During my second and third years of medical school, I was one of the student leaders, and during my final year in medical school, I became one of the co-presidents.
RCMA: What impacted you the most through your involvement with the RCMDA?
Alex: I think what impacted me the most was developing such strong relationships with the other students and with members of the CMDA Council whom I grew to see as both friends and mentors.
Christine: No matter how difficult school was, or how busy our schedules were, the CMDA members almost always took the time to engage in fellowship. Those times spent in fellowship with members of CMDA are some of my fondest memories. Looking back, it is easy to see now how much we showed each other love the way Christ loved us. Medical school helped develop my clinical knowledge, but CMDA helped solidify my spiritual foundation in Christ, through the sweet times I spent with my fellow brothers and sisters in prayer, worship, and discussion. They challenged me when I needed to be rebuked, cried with me during times of lamentation, and rejoiced with me during times of celebration. Through birthday celebrations, dinner get-togethers, retreats, spontaneous trips to DC, and a medical mission trip to El Salvador, to name just a few examples, I feel as if I have walked a lifetime’s journey with some very special people. And, as the icing on the cake, I met my sweet husband, Alex, through CMDA! We got married the day after graduation, with Dr. Armistead officiating our wedding ceremony. ☺
RCMA: How were you challenged and/or encouraged in your faith as a result of the CMDA community in Richmond?
Alex: I was encouraged by the true love of Christ that I saw in so many fellow CMDA members.
Christine: Going through a challenging time like medical school can likely test a person’s faith, as health professions training can be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. I think that being part of a body of fellow believers during a time when it is so easy to lose your identity in professional achievement is so vital to reminding oneself of one’s value in Christ, separate from these worldly labels. Seeing so many well-respected health professionals from various fields not lose their identities to the demands of their professions, but instead, be such solid Christians, was very inspiring to me. Having that sort of modeling was very important in showing me that faith and medicine were not mutually exclusive and that in fact, the intersection of both is something beautiful, but in need of constant exploration. Now that I am actually in residency, I can understand better what “being a Christian first and doctor second” means, and I attribute that framework to the values cultivated in me through CMDA.
RCMA: Where are you currently pursuing residency and what are your career aspirations?
Alex: I am now at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital doing my intern year in Family Medicine, and I am grateful to have already met several other Christian residents in the program.
Christine: I am currently a pediatrics resident at Virginia Tech Carilion, and my goal is to become a general pediatrician incorporating medical mission work into my practice.