The Operating Room and the Temple

The temple is like the operating room; it has a special purpose, and special preparation is required to enter it.

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

operating room and temple.png

On the first day of my medical school surgery rotation I set foot inside of an operating room (OR) to participate in a surgery for the first time. The patient had a rectal tumor, which my team was cutting out. She was positioned in stirrups on the table, and I had a front row seat to watch the work of the surgeons as I stood between her legs holding a retractor. I had seen human anatomy before in the cadaver lab, but I had never seen a living person’s bowels before that day. A loop of her intestines was hanging out of the surgical incision, and I could see its slow, squirming peristalsis movements. There was also blood, which we never saw in the cadaver lab because embalmed corpses have long since stopped bleeding.

After a short time I started to feel lightheaded. This was a familiar feeling for me, as I have a condition called vasovagal syncope which has caused me to pass out many times after receiving shots, experiencing minor injuries, or giving blood. Standing in the operating room that day I tried to fight against it, but when it became clear to me that I was going to faint I decided that it would be less embarrassing to speak up and let the surgeons know that I had to sit down than it would be to pass out and possibly fall forward into the sterile surgical field.

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Depositions and Testimonials

I tried it, and it worked for me

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

This week I had to testify in a court case, and it got me thinking about the various uses and forms of the word “testimony.”

Legal Testimony

Depositions and TestimonialsIn a legal setting, the word “testimony” refers to statements made by a witness under oath. This may be done in a court of law, or in a deposition. A legal testimony for a doctor involves discussing memories about an episode of patient care, and these tend to be episodes where something bad happened to the patient.

Testifying in a legal case is an experience which every doctor is likely to have before getting too far into their career, no matter how good of a doctor you are, how conscientious you are, or how much you care about and try to help your patients. It is not a very pleasant experience to be scrutinized in this way, and it is hard not to practice defensive medicine afterwards. The paranoid thought that every patient might want to sue you for malpractice can be rather damaging to the doctor-patient relationship and to the medical decision making process, so I try not to think about it very much. This may be an ostrich’s approach to the problem, but I would rather focus on the task of trying to do what is right and building consensus with patients. Continue reading

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5 Things About the Human Body

5 things

The human body is a marvel of design, one of God’s greatest gifts to his children, and a gift that keeps on giving.

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

Our Creator has given us instructions about how to take care of and use our bodies. Over the years, in ancient and modern revelations, he has warned us of dangers and pointed us towards better practices. Although our mortal bodies are designed to wear out and die, ending our lives on earth, our bodies will be a part of our eternal existence after the resurrection. This post will provide a quick overview of God’s teachings on five subjects related to the human body. Continue reading

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Questions in the Book of Mormon

Awareness of the use of questions in the Book of Mormon aids the understanding of several passages, and provides a model for effective use of questions in gospel teaching.

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

Questions in the Book of MormonA few months ago I was leading a discussion in a Teacher Council Meeting about how to use questions effectively while teaching. I asked each person in the room to find a scripture where someone used a question while teaching the gospel, figuring that this would be a fairly straightforward exercise. Many people in the scriptures, and especially Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, used questions extensively in their teaching, and I could think of several example passages. However, this was a difficult exercise for many of the people in the group, who struggled to find a passage containing a question. After a few days of pondering on this experience, I decided that I would study the Book of Mormon, looking specifically at the questions and marking them all with a colored pencil.

This study was inspired by President Thomas S. Monson’s final General Conference address, where he urged the members of the Church to study the Book of Mormon with new intensity. He said:

“My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.” (from “The Power of the Book of Mormon,” April 2017)

President Russell M. Nelson responded to this challenge by making “lists of what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, what it refutes, what it fulfills, what it clarifies, and what it reveals. Looking at the Book of Mormon through these lenses has been an insightful and inspiring exercise! I recommend it to each of you.” (from “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?,” October 2017)

My response to President Monson’s challenge to was to make a list of all of the questions asked in the Book of Mormon. I expected that reading the book this way would give me a new perspective on several passages, and it turns out that it did! In this article I will summarize what I learned. Continue reading

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Questions in the Book of Mormon: Supplementary Materials

This page contains supplementary materials for “Questions in the Book of Mormon.” Please see the other post for more information. Continue reading

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Is There Something Wrong?

A story of love, service, and mental illness

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

Something WrongMy family moved a lot when I was a kid, but the hardest move for me was the one before my senior year of high school. I left behind a small town with its small high school, many friends, and my beloved garage band with the accompanying minor celebrity status it gave me. All of this was replaced with a big city, a high school three times the size of my old one, social obscurity and isolation, and a ride on a school bus every day of my senior year of high school.

Yeah, I was bitter. And I didn’t respond very well to the situation. Mourning the loss of my former social capital, I made a conscious decision at my new school to avoid making friends. This was a pre-emptive rejection of everyone around me, intended as an expression of anger and retaliation directed towards people who weren’t really to blame for anything except for the crime of not being my friends. It was also, I think, a sort of coping strategy for my unrecognized social phobia (an ineffective coping strategy, I might point out). I don’t recommend this course of action to other people who may be in a similar situation, any more than I recommend cutting off your nose to spite your face. As you can likely foresee, things didn’t work out so well for me that year. Continue reading

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Rebranding Latter-day Doctor

This website is not about me or for me; it is for and about the Lord.

rebrandingby Alan B. Sanderson, MD

For the past four years this blog has been known as “,” but it is time to move on to a new name. I have decided to rebrand the site with the new name of “Latter-day Doctor.”

Why am I doing this? It is an act of obedience. Last week President Russell M. Nelson issued the following statement (ironically posted on

“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months.”

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