From Bethel Grad to Medicine Man
Imagine living with no running water or electricity — a place where medicine men rather than doctors are often sought to cure ailments. This may sound more like a developing country than the United States, but for Bethel alumnus Michael From M.D. (’02), these are the conditions of the Indian reservation on which he practices medicine in Arizona.
“I have a passion for the underserved,” says From, a pediatrician who works on the Navajo Nation reservation in Chinle, Ariz. “When I contemplated how to serve the under-served the best, I became interested in the Indian Health Service (IHS). … I scanned through the IHS’ availability. Some of the few advertised jobs were for the Navajo Nation and I visited a couple sites and decided to stay.”
From, who is one of five pediatricians in Chinle, says the two years he’s spent on Navajo Nation have been eye opening. “The traditional culture is still very strong, which means approximately half of my patients see traditional medicine men alongside coming to the hospital.”
It’s this traditional culture that affects every interaction From has with his patients. “I have to pay attention to how I phrase my words because telling someone they have the possibility of bad outcomes, whether it be a side effect of a medication or consequence of their disease, is cursing them to have those exact ill effects,” says From.
Because of this, From has learned to give advice to patients, but also use a third party to explain possible outcomes. For instance, instead of directly telling patients that a medication may cause them stomach pain, he’ll say: “Some people who take this medicine may have stomach pain.”
But whether it’s performing routine checkups, or tending to critically ill babies and children, From says Bethel has equipped him with the necessary critical thinking and problem-solving skills to effectively carry out his job.
“Bethel has helped me spiritually … through professor role models like Dr. Bryan Isaac and Dr. Tim Erdel,” From says. “I put my faith in Jesus and try to share his love to every person and patient I meet.”