“I understand excellence as the passionate practice based on awareness of the meaning of unconditional love that Jesus calls us to experience and put into practice.”
LET’S GET TO KNOW DR. EDUARDO CAMPAÑA –SURGEON, SERVANT LEADER, FACILITATOR AND BUILDER OF THE “ABUNDANT LIFE.”
Shortly before I entered the university, a very special experience was instrumental in my accepting the Christian faith. Since that time, I’ve been actively involved in a church that has tried to reach poor communities through nutrition, health and education, and I’ve participated in medical caravans in very remote and needy places. The experience of serving the community has definitely made an impact on my life and my vocation.
Although I specialized in general surgery, I felt called to work in other areas of health. I began to get training in such areas as educational psychodrama, group management and adult education, and I studied and developed a number of subjects related to emergencies, crisis intervention, integrated health care, HIV, sexuality and domestic violence. I’ve facilitated hundreds of training workshops in different countries in Latin America, and I’ve produced educational material that has been widely circulated.
I have two sons and a daughter. I’m married for the second time to a woman with whom I completely share my faith, vision and commitment to work.
I consider it an important achievement having been able to speak in churches about such issues as sexuality or violence that were never discussed in the past.
Dr. Campaña, in these more than 30 years that you have practiced medicine, what still stirs you so deeply that you’d not give it up under any circumstance?
More than medicine, I’d say its health because that’s a broader concept. The field of medicine is one aspect of health.
What inspires my vocation is that I firmly believe in people and in their capacity to learn and change independently of their religion, culture, sex, ethnic group, education or social class, and this conviction is what challenges and inspires me. I feel privileged to know I can be an instrument of change in the lives of persons and communities.
One thing I could never stop doing is interacting with groups and facilitating opportunities for learning and empowerment in churches and communities.
Thinking back about when you started out in your vocation until now, what do you think about the technological, the scientific and specifically the medical progress that has taken place in recent years?
In these 30 years or so, technology has undergone a vertiginous development in every field. Scientific advances in health make it possible to make more precise diagnoses and more effective treatments, and this has had a qualitative as well as a quantitative influence on health services. Nevertheless, I think there are two aspects we should talk about. One is that technological advancements are not available to every person. Health-related technology often serves capital but isn’t at the service of human beings. The other aspect is how the doctor-patient relationship has been lost. Now we are more related to machines than to persons.
Technological advances in general and very especially in the area of medicine have undoubtedly contributed in a positive way. However, it’s also undeniable and evident that hand in hand with technology, cases of medical malpractice are on the rise. Is it due to mediocrity or indifference? Why do you think this is happening?
It’s important to start with the premise that health is a fundamental human right. However, medicine has become a commodity, a source of financial gain and a business. So new technologies are at the service of profit and not of people. Pharmaceutical companies are constantly developing better medicine, but they can make it available only for people who have a certain level of purchasing power and their medicine is not accessible for most people. The medical vocation is part of this dynamic. A person asks, “Why should I study medicine?” And the answer is, “Being a doctor will give me status, money and social position. It will give me power and practically turn me into a ‘semi-god.’”
I think medical malpractice has to do with doctors not understanding their limitations, with their academic training and experience and also because of an uncontrollable desire to make money. A doctor may say, “Although I’m not prepared or trained to resolve a certain type of pathology, I can’t miss this opportunity to make some money.” That’s how many mistakes are made. I think the basis for best practices is to be aware of one’s limitations and capacities and be committed to service.
It also depends on other factors that have to do with infrastructure and the training of people involved in health services. However, a doctor also needs to work with people and health institutions that guarantee responsible services and offer the quality and care all people deserve.
Humanly speaking, what does “his life is in the hands of the doctors” mean? Isn’t that what many would people say?
We need to educate people to understand that it’s the person who is healed and the doctor is there to help, orient or guide towards that healing. A life is not just in the hands of the doctor; it’s also the responsibility of every person to fulfill all the indications and treatments and to take care of his or her own health. This expression could be applied correctly in cases of emergency when experience, expertise and knowledge could make a difference in a person’s life. I think being conscientious is still the best parameter for being a good doctor.
For doctors, their field of work is health and life itself. For other professionals, their areas of focus are different, so cases of malpractice can be different for different areas. Based on your experience, what practical advice would you give present and future colleagues or young professionals and new generations who will soon be inserted into these different fields so they won’t be part of mediocrity and indifference?
I think one of the most important aspects is academic training. Today it gives me great satisfaction to see that more is being required of people who want to study medicine, precisely because of the responsibility implied in this field of work. If people are better trained and prepared, they will be less likely to make mistakes.
On the other hand, as I said before, if the main goal of the medical profession is fame and fortune, then we are at the mercy of a loss of consciousness that could cause us to make mistakes and be negligent. When economic profit is more important than people, we become vulnerable and take risks.
Dr. Campaña, we know you profess the Christian faith. How has Jesus Christ, the God of Excellence inspired you to serve your community passionately through your profession?
Well, the figure of Jesus Christ is the model I admire and try to follow on a daily basis in order to serve passionately, lovingly and disinterestedly, always trying to give my best. Another important aspect is to never stop learning. Renewing the mind and understanding is what changes our attitudes and consequently, our lives.
I feel called to work for the building of the “abundant life” that Jesus came to bring us. I understand “abundant life” as the dignified life all of us have the right to because we were created in the image and likeness of God.
Finally, can Jesus Christ –the God of Excellence- guarantee His followers a life of excellence? What is needed for that?
I understand excellence as the passionate practice based on awareness of the meaning of unconditional love that Jesus calls us to experience and put into practice.
I think the promises and the call Jesus presents in His Word are the guarantee of excellence. I believe there’s a difference between believing “in God” and “believing God.” Believing and claiming God’s promises is what makes the difference.
Excellence is obtained through a continual learning process, through daily work and practice –it doesn’t happen overnight. Learning from mistakes is fundamental for achieving excellence. Another important aspect is the constant evaluation of our attitudes. Everything we do in our lives should be evaluated. We can always improve the way we do things, and we can accomplish that by looking at ourselves and looking at the things we do. That will allow us to achieve excellence, and for me, that is wisdom.