The Autumn Council of 1932, held at Battle Creek, Michigan, passed a recommendation to the effect that each union conference should cooperate with its local conferences in providing a loan fund up to $1,500 for graduates of our medical college, thus making it possible for them to set up private practice in the various conferences throughout the field, and stating the conditions upon which these funds were to be provided and dispensed. At that time I was president of the Texas Conference, and immediate study was given to this question. We placed ourselves on record as favoring the recommendation, and drafted certain stipulations to which each doctor requesting a loan should agree before the loan was made. We negotiated with the medical college, and succeeded in placing nine doctors in our conference from the time the recommendation was passed in October, 1932, until I left the Texas Conference in July, 1936.
In no case did we go the full limit of the General Conference recommendation in making loans. The highest individual loan made was $500. Four men who were operating a small sanitarium together received a loan of $1,000. In making the loans, we asked each doctor to sign an interest-bearing note, with the understanding, however, that we would not expect a doctor to make any payments on the note during the first year unless he chose to do so. We also stipulated that the interest must be paid annually, and that after the first year the note was to be reduced at the rate of not less than ten per cent of its face value each year. We suffered no financial loss, and through recent correspondence I have learned that the unpaid notes are good, the interest has been paid to date, and most of the notes have been paid off entirely.
Naturally, when we make loans to these doctors, we expect financial returns to the conference in tithes and offerings. My experience has been that even in the short period of two or three years, doctors have paid into the conference in tithe alone two and three times the amount that was loaned to them, besides their regular offerings and donations. It is perfectly proper that we should recognize the financial value of a doctor who has a good practice in a local conference. At the same time, we need to consider the spiritual influence that the doctor exerts in the church and in the community in which he practices.
In all the cases in which doctors were located during my administration, we were successful in securing men who proved to be spiritual assets to the conference through their leadership in the churches. Most of the men placed are holding such key offices as elder, Sabbath school superintendent, missionary leader, and treasurer. All of the doctors, besides paying a faithful tithe, have supported the work by making donations toward evangelistic programs, giving liberal offerings for missions, and taking an active part in Harvest Ingathering and other denominational endeavors.
I am now located in the East Pennsylvania Conference, and I regret to say that this conference has not been so successful in the endeavor as the Texas Conference, because of the laws of the State. Pennsylvania laws are very rigid, and it is hard for a doctor who has been graduated from a medical college outside the State to secure a license to practice in the State. Although the medical graduates of our medical college in California are quite capable of passing the Pennsylvania State-board examination, there are other requirements which make it difficult for a doctor to secure a license to practice. Pennsylvania requires work in the internship field that most other States do not require, and therefore unless a man interns in the State, it is almost impossible for him to secure a license unless he takes this additional internship work.
The better hospitals in the State require a personal appearance when application for internship is made. This requirement presents difficulties to the graduate who may find that he does not have enough money to buy a ticket from California to Pennsylvania. Recognizing, however, the value of good Christian physicians in the conference, our committee recently voted to provide the fare for three graduates each year. If the doctor is accepted as an intern, he usually has no difficulty in securing a license, and when he sets up in private practice, the expense of his trip to make the personal appearance is added to his loan.
Since coming to the East Pennsylvania Conference in July, 1936, we have located several fine young men. One is the elder of one of our leading churches, and his spiritual influence is a great source of encouragement to the church. We believe that as a result of the action taken by our conference committee, we will be able to place many more medical graduates in the territory of the East Pennsylvania Conference. This is missionary work of the highest order, and the good which will come to the cause as a result of locating these medical men of high spiritual standards will be revealed in the earth made new.