Thirst-quenching Saline – Dr Alicia Thornton

4 MINUTE READ
from Luke’s Journal CMDFA 2020 Vol 25 No 1

Saline process

Nine years ago I first planned to attend a Saline Process training workshop. For various reasons it didn’t come together, and my professional path since then has been a rollercoaster of finishing medical school, moving six times between city and country, undertaking research, enjoying two separate years of maternity leave, and eventually completing specialty training. The journey equipped me for many personal and professional encounters, but I still felt vastly underprepared for the most important conversation of all – to feel confident in sincerely, sensitively and effectively sharing the gospel with my patients. My thirst was finally quenched when I attended a Saline Process workshop in Newcastle in June 2019!

What does Saline Process mean?

The Saline Process is named after the life giving saline solution used in healthcare, and also refers to Christians being salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-14 1 ) in the health field. A solution too salty is deadly, and too dilute is bland. So too, we can be truly life-giving through the Holy Spirit if we inject the right balance of truth and love as we witness into the lives of our patients and colleagues. Our conversations are to be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6 2 ), and we are to always be ready to give a reason for our hope, with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). In healthcare, this is demonstrated by being ready to seek permission to discuss spiritual matters, with openness, sensitivity and respect. The term Process acknowledges that God’s work in our lives is ongoing.

“…being ready to seek permission to discuss spiritual matters, with openness, sensitivity and respect….”

Newcastle Saline Process, 2019

Needless to say, the training day did not disappoint! About 20 participants gathered on a fresh sunny winter morning to learn how we can better share our faith at work. We were led by passionate trainers, each bringing a wealth of experience in varied backgrounds. Our group was enriched by the shared experiences of GPs, practice managers, palliative care specialists, psychologists, nurses, dietitians, naturopaths and medical and allied health students, creating a unique learning opportunity with a diversity of perspectives.

I was inspired to learn from one GP who had a stack of Bibles in the consulting room to give away to anyone who asked, that he was constantly restocking! It was also encouraging to hear him stand firm and bold for Jesus in the face of abuse regarding his Bible-giving from a few offended patients.

It was convicting to realise that having spiritual influence r

equires not only professional competence and compassion, but demonstrable Christlike character (Galatians 5: 22-23a) and courage (Joshua 1:9).

Some participants were particularly looking forward to putting into practice the Christian Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tool. I especially appreciated learning the framework of the Engel Scale. It is a useful tool to help identify one’s willingness to engage with Jesus and Christianity, and provides a toolkit in how to approach someone in each stage. Within that toolkit are eight tools including taking a spiritual history and identifying moments for ‘faith flags’ and ‘faith stories’.

My take home mantra to sum up the Saline Process, as one participant shared, is to “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words” (a principle which may or may not have originated with St Francis of Assisi. 3 ) 3. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/factchecker-misquoting-francis-of-assisi/ (Accessed 21/09/2019)

Alicia Thornton - Saline photoSaline Process participants Newcastle 2019

What’s to love about Saline Process?

• It brings together like-minded health professionals from all stages of experience both professionally and spiritually

• The focus of the workshop is patient-centred and God-honouring

• Each part is founded on biblical principles

• The workshop structure achieves a balance of new information, personal reflection, small group sharing, whole group contribution, social time, prayer and thanksgiving to our good God

• Information presented is evidence-based, and data on the clinical relevance of incorporating spirituality and faith into healthcare is staggering

• It nicely weaves in a video of one patient’s faith journey, which serves as an emotive stimulus for thinking through the concepts presented

• It equips participants to create and identify moments to seek permission (and even documenting that it has been granted), and then to discuss spiritual matters with sensitivity and respect, including taking a spiritual history

• The take-home manual is a resource of pure gold, helping to continually equip participants to share the gospel and reflect on their experiences

• Graduates become part of an online Saline Process support community, receiving weekly encouragement and devotions, and the opportunity to share experiences and news through the online forum

• The workshop day is well-structured with specific goals met for each session; despite the volume of information participants do not leave feeling overwhelmed, but rather equipped and motivated

• The emphasis is on practical application in the workplace.

1. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
2. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Dr Alicia Thornton
Alicia is a dermatologist in the Newcastle region. She is married to Cameron and they have two young children. They love attending Hunter Bible Church. Looking back, Alicia would never have predicted any of the twists and turns on her journey. God’s grace and foresight has prepared her every step of the way for what is around each corner.

Taste and See – Saline in Sydney

Saturday 13 June  9:30-12:00pm

Venue NCFA Office – 5 Byfield St, Macquarie Park, NSW

Trainers: Gabi Macaulay and Georgie Hoddle Cost: • $20 NCFA/CMDFA members – $30 non-members

Details: ncfa.salineprocess@protonmail.com

 

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