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James Reitman

Dr. Reitman is retired from the U.S. Air Force where he served as an internal medicine specialist since 1990 with his final assignment at the United States Air Force Academy. He served as Chief Consultant for Medical Ethics to the Air Force Surgeon General From 1995-1998 and has published a number of articles and book chapters exploring the process of decision making in common ethical dilemmas of end-of-life care, such as Physician Assisted Suicide, Medical Futility, and appropriate care for those who are suicidal and children who have been diagnosed in utero with congenital defects. Dr. Reitman also earned a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1983. He has written two full-length commentaries on the books of Job and Ecclesiastes. Dr. Reitman is also an avid cyclist and has often competed in road races and other cycling events. He has been married to his wife Peggy since 1977 and has four grown children.


Undergraduate: BA Pomona College, Claremont, CA 1971. Honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude. NCAA postgraduate scholarship for outstanding scholar-athletes. Graduate: MD University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine 1971-73, Washington University School of Medicine 1973-75.Honors: Robert Carter Prize for Outstanding Research. Post

Graduate: PGY 1, 2, Straight Internal Medicine, University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX1975-77. PGY 3, Straight Internal Medicine, Clinical Associate, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 1977-78. Master of Arts Program in Biblical Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX, 1981-83. MA Biblical Studies with honor. 1984. Certificate, Seminar in Advanced Clinical Ethics. University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX. 1991. Fellowship in Clinical Ethics, University of Virginia Center for Biomedical Ethics, Charlottesville, VA 1994. Certificate of Fellowship 1994. Master of Divinity equivalency, Denver Seminary, 2007.

National Board of Medical Examiners, Certificate No. 149620, 1976.

American Board of Internal Medicine, Certificate No. 75309, 1980.

Medical License, State of Maryland, No. D23419, lapsed, 1979.

Medical License, State of Texas, No. G0811, current, 1981.

Medical License, State of Texas, No. G0811, lapsed, 2009.

Medical License, State of Colorado, No. 44989, current, 2006

Adjunct Professor in Spiritual Formation, Teaching Assistant in Hermeneutics, and D. Min. Student in Spiritual Formation, Denver Seminary, 2007-present

Active Duty, Medical Corps, USAF, 1990-present

Private Practice, General Internal Medicine, McAllen, TX, 1984-90

Contract Physician, Disability Determination Division, Texas Department of Social Services, 1985-90

Contract Emergency Physician, Emergency Assoc, Inc., South Padre Island, TX, 1983-84

Contract Emergency Physician, EMCARE, Dallas, TX, 1981-83

Active Duty, USPHS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD (7/77-7/79) and Phoenix Clinical Research Unit, AZ (8/79-8/81), 1977-81.

Medical Director, Open Bible Medical Clinic (Christian Free Clinic), Colorado Springs, CO. 2006-present

Senior Internist, 10 MDG, US Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO. 2003-06

Chairman, Department of Internal Medicine, 55 MDG, Offutt AFB, NE. 2001-03

Chairman, Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, 55 MDG. 2001-03

Chairman, Emergency Resuscitation Committee, 55 MDG. 2001-03.

Chairman, Managed Care Working Group, 52 MDG, Spangdahlem AFB, Germany, 1999-2000.

Member, Credentials Function, 52 MDG, 1998-2000.

Commander, Medical Services Flight, 52 MDG, 1998-2000.

Chairman, Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, 52 MDG. 1998-2000.

Member, Executive Committee of the Medical Staff, 52 MDG, 1998-2000.

Chairman, Medical Ethics Function, 52 MDG, 1997-2000.

Chairman, Department of Internal Medicine, 52 MDG, 1997-2000.

Team Leader Wilford Hall Medical Center TRICARE HMO, 59 MDW, Lackland AFB, Texas, 1996-97.

Chairman, Wilford Hall Medical Center Ethics Committee, 59 MDW, 1995-97.

Director, Ethics Consultation Service, Wilford Hall Medical Center, 59 MDW, 1995-97.

Member, Medical Ethics Commission, Christian Medical and Dental Society, 1996-2002.

Military Consultant for Medical Ethics to the USAF SG, 1995-98.

Director of Ambulatory Care Training, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Wilford Hall Medical Center, 1992-97.

Assistant Professor of Medicine, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, 1990-97.

Chairman, Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, HCA Rio Grande Regional Hospital, McAllen, Texas, 1986-90.

Member, Utilization Review/Quality Assurance Committee, Upper Valley Health Care, Inc. (PPO), McAllen, Texas, 1987-88.

Medical Director, Regency Home Health Service, McAllen, TX, 1986-88. 

Member, Society of Biblical Literature, pesent.

Member, American College of Physicians/American Society of Internal Medicine, 1995-present.

Member, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, 1995-present.

Member, Texas Medical Assn. And Hidalgo County Medical Society, 1985-90.

Member, Texas Medical Foundation (Peer Review Org.), 1987-90.

Meritorious Service Medal, Second Oak Leaf Cluster, 2003-06

Air Force Commendation Medal, 2003-04.

Meritorious Service Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster. 1997-2000.

Meritorious Service Medal, 1992-96.

  James S. Reitman II, MD, MA

Jim Reitman’s educational and professional experience allows him to bring a unique perspective to current issues of bioethics facing us today. Dr. Reitman holds advanced degrees in both medicine and theology and has professional experience in internal medicine and clinical research. Reitman’s medical experience includes both private practice and a distinquished career with the United States Air Force Medical Corps. During his career Reitman has directed or served on several Ethics Committees and panels and has developed a bedside Ethics Consultation Service at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

We feature here three bioethics articles published by Dr. Reitman in the journal Issues in Law & Medicine. In these papers he proposes a “Wisdom Model” in dealing with end-of-life issues. The Wisdom model uses the Old Testament wisdom literature as a framework for decision making to address key moral and existential issues when caring for people facing intractable suffering or incurable disability. The Wisdom Model provides a viable and rational alternative to the Contractual Model that is gaining popularity in our culture and is based on an ethic of radical individualism, which plays into our cutlure's demand for autonomy and self-determination, at the expense of true community.

The Contractual Model leads to two responses that appear to be opposite sides of the same self-determination coin. The first response is the demand for assisted suicide from those facing intractable suffering. The second response is the demand for the use of every medical treatment available to prolong life in what appears to be a medically futile situation. In the third article Reitman applies the Wisdom Model to the prenatal diagnosis of congenital defects and offers an argument for perinatal hospice that effectively undermines the Contractual Model justification for partial birth abortion.

In this series of articles Dr. Reitman helps the reader address several important questions that elucidate clear advantages of the Wisdom Model over the Contractual Model. Such questions include:

  • Do we adequately understand the nature of intractable suffering?
  • What is the moral value of preserving dignity and control while life remains?
  • How does intractable suffering influence rational decision making?
  • What is the ultimate role of the caregiver?
  • How do we decide what states of life should receive life-prolonging therapy?



Unlocking Wisdom: Forming Agents of God in the House of Mourning (A canonical-linguistic exposition of the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes)

The "Wisdom Model," which Dr. Reitman uses as a construct for end-of-life decision-making in the full-text articles provided on this site, is based in part on exegetical work done for his recently published commentary on the Biblical books of Job and Ecclesiastes.  His exposition of these two books clearly depicts the dynamics of inadequacy and disillusionment in response to unexplained suffering and uncertainty that typically characterizes medical decision-making "in the house of mourning."  Reitman stays true to the Biblical author's inspired intent as he helps us work our way through the pitfalls of radical self-sufficiency en route to the fear of God. To order from Amazon, click the title link above. To order an autographed copy directly from the author e-mail your request to:

Other Publications by James Reitman

  • Deconstructing" Theodicy—the Surprising Utility of Profound Disillusionment. Guest post submitted to Theology Forum, published on August 27, 2008. Available online at:“deconstructing”-theodicy—the-surprising-utility-of-profound-disillusionment/#more-670.

  • Unlocking Wisdom: Forming Agents of God in the House of Mourning (A canonical-linguistic exposition of the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes). Reitman, James. (Springfield, MO: 21st Century Press, 2008).

  • Shall We Prolong Life in Order to Give a Patient Time to Decide About Faith?” Reitman JS.  Today’s Christian Doctor (J. Christian Med. Dent. Assns.) 38:28-29 (2007).

  • “Perinatal Hospice: A response to early termination for severe congenital anomalies.” Reitman JS, Calhoun BC and Hoeldtke NJ. In TJ Demy, GP Stewart, eds., Genetics and Reproductive Technology: A Christian Response (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Books, 1999), 197-211

  • “A ‘Wisdom’ perspective on advocacy for the suicidal.” Reitman JS. In TJ Demy, GP Stewart, eds., Suicide: A Christian Response (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Books, 1998), 369-85

  • “Perinatal Hospice: A response to Partial Birth Abortion for infants with congenital defects.” Calhoun BC, Reitman JS and Hoeldtke NJ. Issues in Law & Med. 13:125-43 (1997)

  • “The Structure and Unity of Ecclesiastes.” Reitman JS. Bibliotheca Sacra 154:297-319 (1997)

  • “The dilemma of ‘Medical Futility’—A ‘Wisdom Model’ for decisionmaking.” Reitman JS. Issues in Law & Med. 12:231-64 (1997)

  • “Wise Advocacy.” Reitman JS. In JF Kilner et al, eds. Dignity and Dying: A Christian Appraisal (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 208-22
  • “The debate on Assisted Suicide: Redefining morally appropriate care for people with intractable suffering.” Reitman JS. Issues in Law & Med. 11:299-329 (1995)
  • The debate on Assisted Suicide: Is there a moral touchstone for decision-making?” Reitman JS. Bioethics Matters (Newsletter of the University of Virginia Center for Biomedical Ethics) 3(2):I-iv (1994)
  • “Improvement of glucose homeostasis after exercise training in non-insulin dependent diabetes.” Reitman JS, Vasquez B, Klimes I and Nagulesparan M. Diabetes Care 7:434-41 (1984)

  • “Very Low Density Lipoprotein triglyceride metabolism in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus: Relation to plasma insulin and free fatty acids.” Howard BV, Reitman JS, Vasquez B and Zech L. Diabetes 32:271-76 (1983)

  • “Characterization of lipase activities in obese Pima Indians: Decrease with weight reduction.” Reitman JS, Kosmakos FC, Howard BV, et al. J. Clin. Invest. 70:791-97 (1982)

  • “Yucatan miniature swine as a model for diet-induced atherosclerosis.” Reitman JS, Mahley RW and Fry DL. Atherosclerosis 43:119-132 (1982)

  • “Changes induced in the lipoproteins of Yucatan miniature swine by cholesterol feeding.” Reitman JS, Mahley RW. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 575:446-57 (1979)

  • “Time course of changes in human skeletal muscle succinate dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase activities and maximal oxygen uptake with physical activity and inactivity.” Henriksson J, Reitman JS. Acta Physiol. Scand. 99:91-97 (1977)

  • “Quantitative measures of enzyme activities in Type I and Type II muscle fibers of man after training.” Henriksson J, Reitman JS. Acta Physiol. Scand. 97:392-97 (1976)

  • “Substrate depletion in different types of muscle and in liver during prolonged running.” Baldwin KM, Reitman JS, Terjung RL, Winder WW and Holloszy JO. Am. J. Physiol. 225:1045-50 (1973)

  • “Intramuscular triglyceride utilization by red, white, and intermediate skeletal muscle and heart during exhausting exercise.” Reitman JS, Baldwin KM and Holloszy JO. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 142:628-31 (1973)

  • “Thiazoline Ring Induction in N-acetylglutathione.” Reitman JS, Cornell NW. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 208:159-62 (1970)

Presentations and Lectures  

  • “ ‘Words of Truth’ and ‘Words of Purpose’—Exegetical Insights into Authorial Intent from Ecclesiastes 12:9-14.”  Article (16 pp.) presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Nov 16, 2006

  • “The wise physician’s response to loss and grief.” Physician panel, Resolve Through Sharing Training Seminar, 04 May 99 and 16 Jan 2000, 52 MDG, Spangdahlem AFB, Bitburg Annex, Germany

  • “End of life decision-making.” Ethics Core Curriculum, University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio Medical School (UTHSCSA), 02 May ’97; Second Annual Respiratory Care Symposium, San Antonio, Texas, 25 Apr ’97; Social Values in Medicine Course, UTHSCSA, 18 Apr ’97; Offutt AFB ethics seminar, 11-12 Dec ’96; Keesler AFB ethics seminar, 24-25 Jun ’96; Wilford Hall Medical Center Nursing Ethics Conference, 26 Nov ’93; and Air Force Villages Retirement Centers I and II, Nov ‘93

  • “Physician Assisted Suicide—What is the Standard of Care?” Dept. of Medicine Grand Rounds, University of Nebraska (Omaha), 11 Dec ’96; Christian Medical and Dental Society student luncheon, UTHSCSA, 03 Oct ’96; Contemporary Issues in Healthcare Ethics, Baptist Memorial Hospital, San Antonio, Texas, 04 May ’96; Society of Air Force Physicians Chapter, Amercian College of Physicians, Annual Meeting, Colorado Springs, CO, 12 Feb 95

  • “Medical Futility: A ‘Wisdom Model’ for Decision-Making.” Doctor’s Hospital, Laredo, Texas, 11 Nov ’96; Ecumenical Center Journal Club of the Humanities, San Antonio, Texas, 23 Jan ’96; Tinker AFB, 14 Nov ’95; Vanderbilt University Center for Clinical and Research Ethics, 25 Oct ’95; Spiritual Dimensions of Chaplaincy in Healthcare, Teleconference Network of Texas, UTHSCSA, 11 Aug ‘95

  • “Ethical Considerations in Managed Care.” Offutt AFB, 11-12 Dec ’96; Tyndall AFB, 06 Sep ’96; Randolph AFB, 28 Aug ’96; Contemporary Issues in Healthcare Ethics, Baptist Memorial Hospital, San Antonio, Texas, 04 May ’96; Squadron Commanders’ Training Course, Wilford Hall Medical Center, 15 Dec ’95; Tinker AFB, 14 Nov ‘95

  • “Intractable Suffering: What is the Standard of Care?” The Christian Stake in Dignity and Dying, Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity Annual Conference, Bannockburn, IL, 14 Jul ‘95

Other Recommended Books on Medical Ethics

The Privileged Planet

Consumers Guide to a Brave New World
Wesley J. Smith
2004 (Hardcover), Encounter Books. 219 pp.


The Privileged Planet

Culture of Death
Wesley J. Smith
2000 (Softcover), Encounter Books. 285 pp.

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