LUCOM welcomes back Chief Medical Officer for Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) welcomed back guest speaker Bruce C. Steffes, MD, MBA, MA, FACS, FWACS, FCS (ECSA), FICS, chief medical officer for Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), on Friday, April 6. His presentation was sponsored by the Office of Clinical Collaboration and Education (OCCE), formerly known as the Office of Medical Outreach and International Medicine. This was his third visit to LUCOM.
As an introduction to the afternoon event, James Cook, director of OCCE, said, “This is part of our new series in bringing to LUCOM doctors and healthcare professionals that serve internationally in the medical missionary field. One of our motto’s is, we are not trying to teach you how you can fit faith into your practice, but rather encourage you how you can use your practice within your faith.”
Dr. Steffes began his presentation by stating, “Today I think it’s important to talk about global surgery and getting involved. We have ignored a serious problem for decades. We have not changed situations. Short-term mission work, even medical work, is enthusiastic. It has skyrocketed. But, hasn’t done a lot of good.”
Having been with the Pan-African Academy and CMDA for over 40 years, Dr. Steffes’ spoke about how many groups throughout the country often “set up shop” and take their “poster pictures” on the mission field. “A Christian medical missionary, who is an educator, has a role to play. If you setup a system that carries on, that’s what makes the difference. It takes time and commitment and money to achieve excellence and significant influence, but don’t worry about the money. Do this for Christ’s glory, not your own.”
Warning the students in attendance, he also mentioned the danger in “voluntourism;" a term he phrased as arriving in another country, doing some work, and take pictures to show where you’ve been. “What we need is commitment, but commitment requires sacrifice. Financial sacrifice, personal time sacrifice; this isn’t an overnight success. It may take ten to twenty years,” he said. “There’s separation from loved ones and your personal safety is at risk. Ultimately, your impact is determined by your involvement.”
Dr. Steffes did encourage short term trips so long as the idea of learning from other students and medical professionals was not overlooked. “It’s important to not miss out but to have the right attitude. There’s work to do with PA students, nursing students, doctors, missionaries; you will find that you always should be learning from each other.”
An emphasis was also placed on education. “Education, not inappropriate technology, is the greatest gift we can give. Technology may disrupt cultural patterns and requires a long horizon and patience, but education, that plants the seeds that make a difference,” Dr. Steffes added.
Dr. Steffes concluded his presentation with a call to action and a personal ambition. “At the end of my life, what I’m hoping for, is to hear ‘Well done, thy good and faithful servant.’ That’s worth more to me than anything this world offers.”
Since 1998, Dr. Steffes has spent a considerable amount of time as a volunteer physician and general surgeon in Haiti, Belize, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and more. In 2006, he joined the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. It has always been his personal and medical mission in life to serve, protect and improve the quality of life for countless citizens in developing countries around the world. In 2015, Dr. Steffes was named Educator of the Year by the CMDA.
“Having Dr. Steffes visit is a wonderful opportunity for our student-doctors. God’s work being done in Africa is a reflection of our goals and ambitions to send LUCOM student-doctors across the world to advance His Kingdom as well as the osteopathic profession,” Cook said.