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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Monique Robles, MD, MS Bioethics, Pediatric Critical Care, Physician, Bioethicist

Francis Etheredge: Would you like to tell us something about yourself?

Dr. Monique Robles: I am first and foremost a child of God, a wife, and a mother. I was raised in a Catholic family and have been a part of many faith-filled communities in my life including the Young Serra Community which really strengthened my faith during the time I was in medical school.

As a physician, I have been blessed to serve children in the field of pediatric critical care medicine.

Through my experience, I realized how important it is to stand firmly on an unwavering foundation. In order to understand, navigate, and articulate the often difficult situations of patients and families, I became certified in health care ethics by The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) and then obtained a master of science degree in bioethics.

Francis: As you are a Catholic doctor, kindly comment on the relationship between your Catholic Faith and your training.

Dr. Robles: Practicing my Catholic Faith has been key in my understanding the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death. It has served as my stronghold and has been the impetus for my courage in standing up against attacks on life, so prevalent in medicine.

As a medical student, I spoke to a couple considering aborting their child (in the large county hospital I was assigned to) because the child had been diagnosed with Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). I, having two siblings with Down Syndrome, was qualified to speak on behalf of this child. So, I relayed my personal story to give them another perspective.

When the third-year resident found out what I had done, she severely reprimanded incident I have not forgotten. Yet, through this event and so many others in my training, the Holy Spirit has fashioned my conscience, aligning it with the will of God.

Francis: Are there ways that your Catholicism has particularly influenced your medical practice?

Dr. Robles: Absolutely...every aspect. It has influenced my interactions with colleagues and staff; allowing me to see and respect their integral role in the care of patients - from those who sanitize the hospital floor to those who remain at a critically ill child’s bedside.

One evening, a toddler who suffered a drowning event, was brought to my care in the ICU. Given the history, the presenting child’s arterial pH, intubated status, and severe cardiovascular compromise, the prognosis was dismal. Our team worked diligently at this child’s bedside all night long to sustain any hope for the survival of this child. The weeping and pleading with God from the hearts of the parents was more than enough to fuel us.

The child miraculously survived despite all odds in favor of him dying. Sitting up with nurses surrounding him, his beautiful smile was captured in a photograph prior to his departure.

In these witnessed miracles, when I was allowed to be the hands of the Greater One, I have been truly humbled.

Francis: What has prompted the development of your website, seeking to promote good bioethics?

Dr. Robles: On this journey, my love for writing emerged. In contemplating how best to share my treasured encounters and knowledge, I began writing as a freelancer. I saw developing a website as a venue to bring clear, scientific-based information and facts to the masses in order to reveal the truth of our God-given dignity and rights.

I have written on unjust laws and crimes against our children hoping to engage others in transforming a culture of death into a culture of life Through education and persuasive writing, I have dedicated myself to reclaim the art and ethics of medicine, a profession that has been usurped and weaponized to justify harm and killing.

Francis: Do you have a saint to whom you particularly turn to for help?

Dr. Robles: Many times in my life, I have thought of and turned to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I am a great fan of simplicity. Things do not need to be complicated, and she is an exemplar of this concept in her “little way.” I relate to her because I see that, with God, even the smallest of souls are great in the eyes of God. This is evident in her being declared a Doctor of the Universal Church.

In her devotion to the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, I find myself united as a pediatric subspecialist who has cared for vulnerable children and as an individual who ponders on the beatitude, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5, 8).

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