Dr. Greg Thompson: Primary Care as a Calling
Meet family physician Greg Thompson, who is passionate about the population he works with and showing them the love of Christ.
Greg Thompson is a second year resident in Family Medicine at the University of Oklahoma. He previously completed his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Oklahoma State University in May 2018.
Can you tell me a little bit about your faith background and your journey to medicine?
I grew up in a conservative Christian household, but it was not hostile to science or to evolutionary creation. My father was an engineer and my mother was a teacher. The supposed conflict between science and religion was not frequently discussed while I was growing up, but I do remember a few occasions when my mom mentioned that she did not have a problem with evolutionary creation. My church was not opposed to the BioLogos view, either. When I was in high school, my lead pastor did a sermon series on Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, and he came out in favor of the BioLogos view, and that was what initially sparked my interest in the science and faith discussion. This led to me eventually reading Francis Collins’ book The Language of God, and being introduced to BioLogos.
I was always interested in the sciences throughout middle school and high school, but I initially started college as an Economics and Finance major. I eventually changed my career aspirations after taking an infectious disease class in college and enjoying it. During the rest of my college career, I spent time shadowing different doctors and confirming that I wanted to pursue medicine. I’m glad that I did switch to medicine and a science-based profession because I am constantly in awe of God’s creation and love the opportunity to worship God in that way.
I was also drawn to medicine because I believe medicine offers a unique role bringing God’s kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven. In the Gospels, Jesus frequently spoke about caring for the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable. Medicine allows us in the healthcare industry to care for people at some of their most vulnerable times in life, and that responsibility cannot be taken lightly. It offers the opportunity to fight against disease and sin, which Jesus fought against during his ministry on Earth.
What made you choose your specialty?
I chose Family Medicine for a number of reasons. One reason was rather simple: it aligned with my personality and my interests. I wanted to be in a speciality which allowed me to take care of the whole person, rather than specialize in one system. Also, I did not enjoy the OR, so primary care made the most sense for me.
What are your career goals? What does your dream practice, location, patient population, etc. look like?
My goal is to be an outpatient Family Medicine physician and have the opportunity to serve a wide variety of patients. I would like to continue what I have started in residency by serving the most vulnerable in our society. These can often be the most difficult patients due to a lack of financial resources and education, but they are often the ones who need help the most.
There seems to always be new things popping up in medicine and medical technology. As a young doctor, what developments are you most looking forward to in your career?
There are a number of things that I am looking forward to in my lifetime. One of my favorite subjects to counsel patients on is diabetes. It is a changing field with new drugs being developed every year. For diabetes, I am particularly keeping an eye on research involving Beta cell regeneration or Beta cell transplantation. Beta cells are the cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin in response to blood sugar and eventually stop working in later stages of diabetes. Other subjects in which I am interested include nutrition, heart disease, and appropriate antibiotic use so that bacteria do not develop resistance.
Have you ever felt your faith challenged while studying or working in a scientific environment?
I haven’t experienced significant challenges to my faith since starting medical school. In my opinion, medicine is less hostile to religion than other scientific disciplines. I have certainly had fun and challenging conversations with colleagues about science and faith, but I haven’t experienced significant objection to my faith. During an undergraduate course, I did have a professor who strongly objected to creationism, and he took the opportunity to criticize religion as a whole. He did eventually clarify that he was objecting to religion that was anti-science.
How does your work influence your faith?
My work influences my faith in a number of different ways. The suffering I see can make me question why God allows these things to happen. A conversation with a patient about Jesus can make me feel hopeful for the future, when all the suffering is reversed and the world is made new. A popular discussion occurring right now involves the correct use of gene editing and CRISPR technology. Certain ethical problems like these, involving experiments or new medical technology, can make me question what the correct path forward may be.
How does your faith influence your work?
My faith influences my work from two main perspectives. First and foremost, if I am not looking for opportunities to talk about Jesus, then I am not fulfilling The Great Commission. Though I am not in a Christian residency, I am allowed to talk to my patients about faith if I see fit. Second, from a theological perspective, fighting against death, disease, and sin, were the core of Jesus’ ministry on Earth. I view medicine as my calling in how I can follow Jesus’ example. I look forward to using medicine throughout my career and continuing to grow as a physician and scientist and improving the relationship between science and faith.
Join the conversation on the BioLogos Forum!
At BioLogos, “gracious dialogue” means demonstrating the grace of Christ as we dialogue together about the tough issues of science and faith.
About the authors
If you enjoyed this article, we recommend you check out the following resources:
Emily Smith | Science & Neighborliness