A Graduate to Make a College President Proud
How do we discover our calling? How do we invest our lives with
significance? Such transcendent questions punctuate an ideal college
education. The most intense satisfaction of being a college president
comes from watching talented young people learn and grow and pursue
lives of leadership and service in their communities.
So it was
with special delight when I heard recently about a young Furman graduate
named Warren Kinghorn. In 1997 Warren earned a Furman diploma and
headed off to Harvard Medical School. Last summer he was one of two
students asked to speak at the medical school's graduation exercises. I
was thrilled to learn of this special honor but not surprised. Warren
has had greatness in his grip for a long time.
Warren enrolled at
Furman in the fall of 1993. He quickly became known across campus as a
brilliant student, admired for his kindness, the strength of his
spiritual convictions and his unpretentious leadership abilities. During
his senior year he was elected president of the Student Government
Warren brought to Furman a keen interest in medicine
and ethics. During his junior year he took a course focusing on medical
ethics and medicine in society. The course, taught jointly by sociology
professor Kristy Maher and philosophy professor Doug MacDonald, used
Greenville Memorial Hospital as its classroom and laboratory.
day Kinghorn and his classmates observed physicians and patients in
action, and they discussed complex ethical issues confronting the
hospital and its staff and patients. The students accompanied physicians
on morning rounds, watched as they exercised their sophisticated skills
and listened in on difficult counseling sessions with patients, family
members and friends.
During afternoon classroom sessions,
professors posed ethical and medical questions that physicians often
face. What kind of life is worth living? Should patients be allowed to
make bad decisions? Are extraordinary medical procedures worth the
financial and emotional price? Should socioeconomic status determine the
quality of health care a patient receives?
there are few easy answers to such questions and that much of a doctors
work is done outside the operating and examining room. As part of the
course, they were required to keep a log of each day's events at the
hospital and record their reflections in a journal.
currently a resident in psychiatry and internal medicine at Duke
University Medical Center, says he often refers back to that journal.
The course inspired him to explore the theological and ethical aspects
of medicine. It was an incredibly rich and eye-opening time for me, he
recalls, and it excited his interest in pursuing similar opportunities.
the summer before his senior year at Furman, Kinghorn completed an
internship in the Chaplain's Office at Presbyterian Hospital in
Charlotte. The apprenticeship, funded by the Duke Endowment, combined
his passions for medicine and spirituality and helped confirm his desire
to pursue a calling linking healing and faith.
Medical School, Kinghorn whetted his appetite for medical ethics after
taking a class on spirituality and healing under Herbert Benson, the
author of the best-selling book, The Relaxation Response.
upon sustaining his spiritual commitments as he pursued his medical
education, Kinghorn took a leave of absence from Harvard after his
second year in Cambridge and enrolled at Duke Divinity School, where in
2002 he earned a master of theological studies degree.
subsequently returned to Harvard and received his medical degree in
2003. At the graduation exercises, he expressed the hope to his
classmates that they will model in their lives the healing that we will
work so diligently to bring to our patients. He urged them to set
their hearts not on wealth or status or fame but instead on more
transcendent goals: the love of others, the beauty in others and in
nature, perhaps even the love of God.
To Dr. Kinghorn, medicine
is an inherently ethical enterprise. Every time a physician sits down
to counsel a patient ... even the most mundane encounters are ethical
ones. In a world grown callous and indifferent, how refreshing it is to
see a young man view his new career as a calling and recognize that
healing involves more than the body.