A Differential Diagnosis

(Originally printed as ‘Changes in Educational Standards’, in The Madison Survey, January 9, 1929)

“There is nothing new under the sun,” said the wisest man that ever lived. Though we often consider the issues that the global Church faces in our current age to be novel, they tend to be repackaged or modern editions of the same difficulties our predecessors faced. 

To this very day, the question of what to do with our professional medical branch has been a perplexing question. This is nothing new. The reprint clearly portrays the attempt to address these complexities back then, also presenting and analyzing the logic that has brought our medical schools to where they stand today. 

Our medical schools were established so that “many workers are to be qualified with the ability of physicians, to labor, not in professional lines as physicians, but as medical missionary evangelists. . . .The cause is in need of hundreds of workers who have received a practical and thorough education in medical lines, and who are also prepared to labor from house to house as teachers, Bible workers, and colporteurs.”

We invite you to reason from cause to effect: Where are we today in our medical branch? Are we fulfilling the purpose for which our medical schools were created, or has the logic as presented below brought us to a place where we ought not to be? 

Dylan Homan

There was a time not many years ago when it was comparatively an easy matter for a young man to take a medical course. A student with an ordinary high school education could gain admittance to the best medical schools of the land. But in 1910 a change was made in the entrance requirements. The American Medical Association perfected – ed its organization and standards changed for the medical schools themselves. About a hundred medical colleges were closed because they could not meet requirements as training centers. States passed laws upholding the requirements of the Medical Association, all but nine states demanding that, in order to hold a license, a physician must have been educated in an A grade medical school. 

Every medical school was put under inspection, and instead of high school requirements for admission, every A grade medical school raised its entrance requirements to two years of college work. To the College of Medical Evangelists, our training center for physicians, was given the following instruction: 

“The medical school at Loma Linda is to be of the highest order, because those who are in that school have the privilege of maintaining a living connection with the wisest of all physicians, from whom there is communicated knowledge of a superior order. And for the special preparation of those of our youth who have clear convictions of their duty to obtain a medical education that will enable them to pass the examinations required by law, of all who practice as regularly qualified physicians, we are to supply whatever may be required, so that these youth need not be compelled to go to medical schools conducted by men not of our faith.”

This clearly sets forth the position that the medical school should occupy among medical training centers of the country. The next question concerns the education of prospective medical students in our own institutions. In order to enter the College of Medical Evangelists shall it be necessary for young men and women to obtain their preparatory work outside our own schools? This question is answered by the same authority that gave direction as to the standards to be attained by the medical school. We read: 

“Our larger union conference training-schools in various parts of the field should be placed in the most favorable position for qualifying our youth to meet the entrance requirements specified by state laws regarding medical students. The very best teaching talent should be secured, that our schools may be brought up to the proper standard. The youth, and those more advanced in years, who feel it their duty to fit themselves for work requiring the passing of certain legal tests, should be able to secure at our union conference training-schools all that is essential for entrance into the medical college.” 

Our own schools are not by any means the only ones that have been passing through deep waters in their efforts to meet advancing standards in the educational world. All over the country institutions of learning are compelled to raise their standards. Their teachers must hold credentials for advanced work in school. The teachers’ colleges, the universities, and colleges of the country have been crowded with men and women who have been professional teachers for years but who lack requirements to meet present standards. They are bravely striving to meet advancing requirements. 

Shall we meet the demands? Apparently the answer given regarding pre-medical students is equally applicable to students preparing themselves to teach the youth of the denomination. We read again, “The youth, and those more advanced in years, who feel it their duty to fit themselves for work requiring the passing of certain legal tests, should be able to secure at our union training-schools all that is essential.”

 Until recent years the training of teachers for church schools was comparatively an easy matter. But if our church schools are to continue, their teachers must be able to meet state requirements, and for these tests, our training schools themselves must meet advanced requirements. And so the wave for further preparation as Christian workers is passing all along the line. What was once done with comparative ease, must now be done under greater difficulties. 

It will become more an effort to find teachers qualified to teach the children in our churches. Shall we therefore lay down the oars and send the children to other schools, relinquishing the idea that God would have us give the children an education in the Scriptures while they are getting the fundamentals of an education? Some may be tempted to reason that it is too hard to maintain schools for our own children. It will be harder, but not an impossibility. The Lord has promised to help us meet these greater perplexities. 

“Prayer will accomplish wonders for those who give themselves to prayer, watching thereunto. God desires us all to be in a waiting, hopeful position. What He has promised, He will do, and inasmuch as there are legal requirements making it necessary that medical students [and now teachers-in-training] shall take a certain preparatory course of study, our colleges should arrange to carry their students to the point of literary and scientific training that is necessary.”

It is found in some instances that a teacher may hold a degree from some one of our senior colleges, and yet lack requirements made by the state of teachers. We are facing similar conditions in the training of nurses. There was a time when nurses were eligible to state board examinations on easier terms than at present. But as restrictions became more binding, it has been necessary for Madison to advance the entrance requirements for those desiring to train as nurses. Only those nurses who had a high school education on entering are now eligible to state board examinations for nurses. 

It is still possible for men and women who want training as practical nurses without state credentials to take their training with less than a high school education. Many who lack qualification for certificated nurses should still educate themselves for medical missionary work. As time passes and disease and distress increase there will be opportunities without limit for such nurses to relieve the suffering and the distressed. 

Present times are not the only hard times that the people of God have faced in the world’s history. One gets comfort from reading the experiences of the children of Israel in the days preceding the Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah was prophet in those days. He gave clear instruction to his people as to the coming conflict and the impending captivity. He instructed Israel to be ready for captivity, a captivity that would endure for seventy years. Other prophets, playing upon the feelings of the people, predicted that the captivity would be of short duration, and that it was needless for them to yield to the demands of the king of Babylon. 

But the words of Jeremiah proved true. Israel passed into captivity, and what they might have done in the way of work for the Lord with comparative ease, had now to be done under most striking disadvantages. And yet every Bible student knows that in the midst of that captivity it was possible for loyal adherents to the principles of the Lord to so live that they were a blessing to their captors. The Lord promised to be with them and make them a blessing to others, and finally to deliver them from captivity. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *