'A Snowball Effect for Goodness'

‘A Snowball Effect for Goodness’

Alumnus’ Gift Seeks to Further Humanism in Medicine

James Laumond, MD’64, is filled with gratitude toward Creighton, especially the School of Medicine. The family practitioner says Creighton gave him “the tools to lead a most satisfying professional and personal life.”

The retired physician prioritizes his gratitude to God, parents and family, Creighton, friends, staff and associates through the years.

He says his time at Creighton made a big difference in his attitudes toward life and medicine: “Creighton’s excellent education gave me the knowledge, know-how and confidence to compete and succeed in my profession at any level; and, my time in Omaha and Nebraska added stability and confirmed the importance of being a friend to all.  My stay also initiated my lifelong passion for farming and ranching.”

Laumond has shown his appreciation to Creighton by making a number of gifts to the School of Medicine over the years. His latest and most significant is 205 acres of ranchland in the golden hills of California near San Jose, and is designated for an endowed faculty chair to promote “more humanism” between the physician and patient.

“In giving to the medical school, I know it’s going for a good cause. There’s a great snowball effect for goodness. What better legacy than to make better doctors, whose efforts will impact the lives of many souls for many years,” he says.

School of Medicine Dean Bo Dunlay, MD’81, says Laumond’s gift and intentions could not be more in line with Creighton’s mission. “We are revising our curriculum to ensure that Ignatian values guide the formation of our medical students as they prepare for a lifetime of spiritual, emotional and professional growth.

“Dr. Laumond spent many years caring for people from all stations in life and understands the challenges our students face. His gift will help enhance the ability of health care providers to connect with the people they serve.”

Laumond is guided by the conviction that practicing medicine is more than book learning and that the relationship between the doctor and patient lies at the heart of good medicine. He wants to help Creighton continue to educate “more complete and better-performing doctors.” And he wants to help those doctors have enjoyable lives as well as thriving practices.

To him, humanism in medicine means giving physicians the tools to practice medicine “more comfortably, so they are informed on how to enjoy their lives and families and do a good job in the caring of, and the relationships with, their patients. This is the essence of the doctor’s life.”

He also believes medical students should have a basic understanding of the situations they will face with their patients, including how to deal with the dying patient.

“Father Vince Decker’s class in medical ethics had a profound influence in my professional life,” he says. “Evaluating a patient’s quality of life and applying ordinary care, as opposed to extraordinary care, in death and dying. The political, ethical and legal debate surrounding physician-aided death is only one issue among many that must be addressed by Creighton in medical education.”

He recounts one time when he called a priest for a dying patient. The priest told him it was comforting to find a physician who was as interested in treating the patient’s soul as well as his body. “Calling the priest for a dying patient is a no-brainer. In every case, it gives comfort to the patient, the family, and, yes, to me too,” Laumond says.

A better understanding of the “art of medicine” will, in Laumond’s opinion, give students a “leg up” in establishing a better rapport with their patients. “As a Creighton doctor, I feel my Creighton education gave me a little more, and that’s why I’m giving back a little more.”