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CMDA's Strategy to Transform Doctor's to Transform the World

by David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
Today's Christian Doctor - Spring 2012

It is humorous in some ways. When I became the CEO in 1994, I didn’t know CMDA ever had a strategic plan, but as Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Now 18 years later, while looking at back issues of CMDA’s journal, one of my staff found a published strategic plan from 1985.

It was a good plan—visionary, comprehensive and measurable. It was titled, “To 1990 and Beyond.” The “beyond” 1990 was a wise plan because most of the goals were not accomplished for more than a decade due to staffing and financial issues. The humorous part to me was that I incorporated many of these same ideas into the strategic plan I wrote in 1995, and I thought I had come with some great original ideas! The same God who inspired Ed Blum, Dr. Bob Schindler and Dr. Curt Drevets in the 1980s inspired me. More than that, He provided the wisdom and resources to accomplish His purpose!

CMDA has grown tremendously. It is so multifacetednow that it is hard for you as a member to know all that CMDA does or its plans for the future. Nonetheless, in these days of great challenge and change, it is more important than ever for you to know the services and resources CMDA provides. If you know about our outreaches, you can access them when you need resources or services. More importantly, these outreaches need your prayers! Let me give you an overview.

Let’s start with CMDA’s governance. Without that strong foundation, an organization cannot grow strong. CMDA’s 16,000+ members are represented by the 75 members of the House of Representatives, one from each state and one from major local ministries, at the annual meeting of that body during the National Convention in April. This group endorses proposed changes to CMDA’s bylaws and approves the organization’s official ethics statements. They provide a majority of the members to the trustee nominating committee and are the key channel for members to speak to the organization and hear from it at the local level.

The CMDA Board is made up of 16-20 trustees and meets three times per year. Any member can nominate him- or herself or another member to the board. Candidates are screened by the trustee nominating committee based on their experience, testimony and the skill sets needed on the board. This nominating committee is made up of three trustees and four members of the House. Three trustees are elected annually to serve for four years. A student and resident trustee are also elected annually to serve for a year with full vote and voice. Every two years, the CMDA President (board chair) is elected by the membership from a slate nominated by the board. The person elected serves two years as President-Elect, two years as President and one year as Past President. The board may elect up to three non-CMDA members to serve on the board due to their knowledge in areas such as law, finance or other areas of needed expertise.

All board members receive initial orientation and then board training at every meeting so they can function well. CMDA has a great board! The members operate within a self-maintained policy manual that defines operating parameters, major policy fences, financial parameters and their relationship with their sole employee, the CEO, who they hire, annually evaluate, compensate and, if necessary, fire. The CEO is a non-voting trustee with full voice. The board’s overarching duty is to accomplish CMDA’s mission to motivate, train and equip Christian doctors to glorify God.

To facilitate its function, the board has four internal committees—Executive, Finance, Strategic Planning and Governance—and three external committees—Continuing Medical Education (approves CE), Ethics (develops official ethics statements) and Public Policy (approves non-ethical organizational positions). Internal committees are made up of board members and meet at each board meeting. External committees report to the board and are largely made up of non-trustee members.

CMDA has a long tradition of volunteer commissions comprised of members who help the organization accomplish a specific outreach the administration may not have the staff or finances to complete. There is a Singles Commission that serves single members through resources, retreats and mission teams. The Women in Medicine and Dentistry Commission focuses on the unique needs of female physicians and dentists through resources, networks, meetings and mission trips. The Continuing Medical and Dental Education Commission designs and runs a large ten-day, four stream and 200+ CE hours conference for healthcare missionaries and their families in either Kenya or Thailand each year. The Malpractice Commission provides prayer, counsel and resources to members dealing with malpractice suits. The Marriage Commission holds marriage renewal weekends. The Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons initiates, supervises and networks surgical residency programs at mission hospitals to develop a cadre of national missionary surgeons to serve their own people. Presently, there are 39 residents in training.

CMDA’s CEO hires and supervises all paid and volunteer staff, works with the board to develop the strategic plan and budget for approval, develops the strategies to accomplish the organization’s goals and is the chief voice to the government, media and the public.

The administration is made up of more than 100 full and part time staff, of which about 50 are based in Bristol, Tenn., at CMDA’s beautiful 52,000 square foot headquarters/conference center, and the rest are based around the country. Dr. Gene Rudd, an OB/Gyn, serves as Senior Vice President and then there are ten senior staff members who oversee major areas of ministry.

Each area of ministry is categorized into one of CMDA’s five key result areas—Transformation, Service, Equipping, Voice and Organizational Development. These result areas help our ministries to remain focused on the goals set forth in the strategic plan.

Transformation ministries that transform medical professionals’ lives through evangelism and discipleship

Dr. Scott Ries, a Family Practice doctor, serves as the Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries, our largest outreach area. Scott is responsible for student ministries on 225 professional campuses and for services to our graduate members. Each student chapter has a local student leadership team and a representative on the National Student Council. Scott’s job includes supervising four Regional Directors who provide supervision to Area Directors and full time staff members working with a local council of members to help fund and set goals for area outreaches. These are usually focused in major urban areas with training schools. In locations where the workload or funding needs are less, an associate staffer is hired to work one or two days each week.

Scott also provides oversight to Side By Side, a ministry to female spouses of students and residents; numerous regional and area conferences; Life Support, an audio resource for students and residents published eight times per year; webinars and staff training; and much more. In addition, Scott overseas the Specialty Sections, groups of members who come together for fellowship and voice in their specialty (Family Practice, Psychiatry, Military, etc.). His newest area of responsibility is to assist in facilitating our Christian Dental Association outreach to minister to the needs of our dental members.

Service ministries that provide opportunities for doctors and others to use their God-given skills to meet the needs of others and to share the gospel with them

Dr. Don Thompson, a Family Practice physician, directs Global Health Outreach which conducts 40 to 50 short-term medical and dental trips with national partners around the world. The primary purpose of GHO is to radically impact the lives of its 1,000+ annual participants while doing evangelization, strengthening the local church and providing superb healthcare.

A former flight surgeon leads Medical Education International, an outreach that uses medical and dental education to build relationships with national doctors in difficult to access countries to influence them to Christ. Susan Carter, BSN, MPH, and Dr. Daniel Tolan bring their rich experience overseas to lead the Center for Medical Missions that works with more than 700 members who are missionary doctors. CMM works closely with the Global Missions Health Conference which attracts more than 2,500 attendees each November in Louisville, provides consultation to mission organizations and brings together their leaders for a medical mission executive summit each year to plan the future of medical missions. CMM also completes annual new medical missionary orientation, provides scholarships for student and residents to do rotations in mission hospitals and publishes “The e-Pistle,” a monthly resource for missionaries.

Equipping resources and services that give medical professionals and the church the knowledge and tools they need to effectively serve the Lord

This result area contains Meeting Planning which plans and facilitates more than 25 meetings each year; Digital Media which produces audio and video resources such as Christian Doctor’s Digest, Just Add Water DVDs, etc. and runs CMDA’s radio and TV studios; Communications which produces Today’s Christian Doctor, the CMDA website and social media sites and more than a dozen electronic resources in addition to conducting annual media training; the Continuing Medical Education department; the Placement service to match Christian doctors for practice; and the Stewardship department which assists members to become good stewards and overseas our fundraising activities. And that’s not all. Life and Health Resources provides tools for doctors and their patients including an entire series of “medically reliable, biblically sound” resources published by CMDA.

Is your head spinning yet? You have a lot to be proud of in CMDA!

Voice outreaches that speak for our members to the government, media, church and public on bioethical and public policy issues while also training Christians to be effective advocates themselves

The fourth key result area is “Voice.” Though you often hear about what CMDA is doing to represent you on important issues in public policy, it actually consumes less than 5 percent of our staff and finances. Vice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody is based in Washington, D.C., and he makes more than 200 personal contacts each year with legislators, their staff and government officials. He is continually attending meetings to stay abreast of the legislation and regulations. He writes op-ed pieces for newspapers and magazines that reach more than five million people annually. He works behind the scenes with many organizations that share our views to link them with our professional expertise. For example, he brought more than 50 organizations together under the Freedom2Care coalition to fight for healthcare right of conscience. Vice President for Communications Margie Shealy sends out news releases, schedules approximately 200 to 300 media interviews each year and coordinates state campaigns to defeat initiatives to legalize physician-assisted suicide and embryonic stem cell research funding, among other issues.

Organizational Development ensuring good governance, administration, policies, resources and services are in place to ensure all CMDA’s ministries will flourish

The fifth key result area, Organizational Development, helps everyone serving at CMDA accomplish their goals. It includes the finance, information technology, membership services, maintenance, housekeeping and mail services departments.

In total, CMDA has more than 45 outreaches. Believe it or not, I have not named them all! God has given us a broad and deep ministry to healthcare, to our culture and to the world. For example, CMDA is the main financial supporter of the International Christian & Medical Association that starts and coordinates national CMDA-type groups in more than 70 countries. We work closely with Nurses Christian Fellowship, Christian Pharmacy Fellowship, The Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants and Christian Community Health Fellowship in joint ventures.

What’s ahead? Well, each of the outreaches I’ve mentioned has its own goals and measurable objectives to enhance the quality and scope of the ministries. These all roll up into CMDA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan. That plan is reported on, updated and revised three times each year at our board meetings.

I’m excited about two new major programs. First, Dr. Jeff Amstutz, a former missionary dentist with an MBA, joined CMDA in January this year to provide leadership for many new dental initiatives including a conference this summer for the top two Christian dental students plus a faculty member from every dental school in the country. We hope to triple our dental membership in the next five years. Secondly, Global Health Relief will provide medical and dental services in major crisis situations around the world in partnership with the Salvation Army. It will hit the ground this year with training and resourcing already underway.

I hope you are proud to be a CMDA member. I know I am. I want to be part of an organization that is making a difference in our profession and our culture. I want to disciple the next generation of Christian doctors, support our missionary colleagues, serve alongside likeminded professionals and be a righteous voice into our culture on important issues.

With all that’s going on in healthcare, if we didn’t have CMDA, we would have to create it!

I challenge you to pray for it daily, support it regularly and get involved if you are not already. There are many connection points. Find one where God can use you at the local and national level.

The success of our strategic plan depends on you. Working together, we can transform doctors to transform the world!


David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)