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Xavier Magazine | May 25, 2017

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Extra Credit: Robert Hurd, S.J.

Extra Credit: Robert Hurd, S.J.

In addition to being a priest, Robert Hurd, S.J., is a staff physician at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cincinnati.  He has a medical degree from Creighton University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of San Francisco, a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and a licentiate from the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of California Berkeley. Today, he’s one of a rare breed—both doctor and Jesuit priest.

“Throughout the world, I’d say there are at least 40-50 Jesuit doctors.

“My title? I’m Father Doctor. I’m a Jesuit first. Anything I would do as a doctor would be in the context of Jesuit activities spirituality.

“I teach a course in endocrinology and two or sometimes three courses each semester in bioethics.

“I like teaching both. We touch on a lot of issues—health care reform, stem cell research and more.

“We try to balance the issues between science and Church teachings. We have to work with the students so they learn some principles that they can apply to different situations. One of Fr. Baumiller’s main mottos was that everybody should feel comfortable in gray areas. You can’t avoid them. When he was at Georgetown University, he founded the first prenatal diagnosis clinic for women and their husbands who were told in the middle of their pregnancy that they had a serious anomaly with the baby. And instead of sending them away where they would probably have an abortion, he worked in this gray area to counsel the people and give them all the information they needed and let them know what resources are available. So he was kind of a model for all of us. That’s our example of working within the Church’s principles in an ever-changing world.

“There are quite a few of my former students who are working at different hospitals around town and are on the ethics committees of the hospitals where they work. We interact all the time.

“The VA was recommended to me by the biology chair, Charles Grossman, who was working there at the time as director of the research department. There are a lot of students in the biology program who do their research projects there. So that fit very well.

“What do I do for fun? I like music. That’s my hobby. I play the guitar, piano and organ. When I was a medical student, we were not supposed to moonlight or work, but on Sunday mornings I figured I could do what I liked so I played organ and guitar at the parish church. I’m now the music director of a church in town, Holy Trinity in Kenwood.

“I also like to go to O’Connor Sports Center and exercise. I go early in the morning, around 6:00 a.m. I ride a bicycle and read my notes for that day’s class. I photocopy pages of the textbook so I can read the chapter of the day and refresh myself. If I don’t do it then, it’s not going to happen.

“I’m usually at the VA from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. On days I teach, I leave at 3:00 p.m. and then teach from 4:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m.

“I don’t sleep much.”

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