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Religious diversity and health care topic of student discussion

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Scott Gremillion
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Feb. 20, 2012)   —   A group of 10 East Carolina University medical students spoke Monday to fellow students and faculty members about their faiths and how medical professionals might deliver more culturally sensitive care to believers.

The religion discussion was the first in a series of midday lectures, discussions and presentations during Diversity Week at the Brody School of Medicine.

Jewish students Emily Ross and Elizabeth Sibrack said while many of their faith are more culturally Jewish than strict religious followers, keeping the Sabbath (sundown Friday to Saturday evening) as a time of rest is important to many. However, saving lives is more important, so emergency surgeries or other care is allowable. They encouraged physicians to be upfront and honest about Jewish patients' health care needs during the Sabbath.

Scott Gremillion spoke about his Baha'i faith, saying adherents see people as spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. He encouraged health care professionals to consider more than what is happening to patients physically.

"There's material and spiritual means to heal people," he said.

Catholic students Kate Webber and Stephanie Maxwell spoke about their faith's opposition to birth control and abortion, among other topics. Webber said she would refer patients who seek contraception or abortion information to another provider.

They also said it's important for babies who will not survive long to be baptized, and that health care professionals may do that in the absence of a priest.

Protestant Christian student Brad Beamon told the audience they might encounter patients who believe God will heal them.

"If you're not a Christian, you can tell them a Christian told you this: God has given us medicine," Beamon said. "God works through Advil, also."

Other students represented Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Other topics to be covered this week include racial, ethnic and sexual diversity. All events begin at 12:30 p.m. in Room 2S-04 of the Brody Medical Sciences Building. Limited lunches will be provided. More information is online at

Diversity Week is sponsored by the Brody Medical Student Council and school's Office of Diversity Affairs.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482