After delivering a grim diagnosis with the medical team, Dr. Jeffrey Cannon (Pre-Medicine ’15) answered the pull to know more about his patient as a person. He introduced himself to the elderly woman and asked her to tell him about herself. “After she narrated her story, the CT scan’s image was soon replaced by the beautiful life of the woman in front of me,” he remembered. Then the woman took Dr. Cannon’s hand and asked him to pray with her and her daughter for her upcoming surgery.
In the few short minutes before his patients’ procedures, Dr. Cannon takes the opportunity to connect with them and earn their trust and confidence. “To comfort another human being and ensure they remain safe and well throughout their surgery—that is an honor that I will never take for granted,” he said.
Dr. Cannon will soon complete his fourth year of residency and, having met the highest standards of excellence in his field, will become a board-certified general anesthesiologist. He genuinely enjoys helping people and making a difference in their lives. “Serving others was something I found a lot of meaning in as a child and teenager. I saw this displayed in my home and my church. I also feel it a privilege to show the love of Christ to others in various ways,” Dr. Cannon said. “Being a physician allows me to do all these things.”
A Heart to Serve Others
A number of things contributed to his desire to become a physician. Dr. Cannon refers to the past ten years as a largely influential time of his life, starting in Kenya on a medical missions trip with his father. Also an anesthesiologist, Cannon’s father played a large part to inspire who Jeffrey Cannon is today. Tagging along as a non-medical volunteer, the future Dr. Cannon got to observe his father serving others and showing the love of Christ through medical care. “I jumped into every role I could fill during this trip,” Dr. Cannon recalled. While walking patients to and from their clinic spots and helping in surgeries, he absorbed as much as he could around him and saw how the Lord could use God-given talents to make a difference in a patient’s physical and spiritual life.
“Serving others was something I found a lot of meaning in as a child and teenager.”
As a freshman at another college, “I was having a hard time rectifying my desire to serve the Lord and my drive toward medicine,” Dr. Cannon explained. Since he was homeschooled from kindergarten through 8th grade and then attended a Christian high school using Abeka curriculum, Dr. Cannon was familiar with the biblical foundation of PCC’s degrees. He was aware of the outstanding pre-medicine emphasis and even knew some graduates who had gone on to medical school. “After that trip [to Kenya], I felt strongly that I needed to pursue a career in medicine as a physician. I transferred to Pensacola Christian College for the fall semester of 2012, and I hit the ground running studying pre-medicine.”
An Excellent Undergraduate Education
Dr. Cannon often tells people he learned to be a leader while he was an undergrad. “From something as simple as being a room leader to being the president of my collegian, I learned that in order to effectively lead others, I had to truly care about them—just as God cares for each of us,” he said. “Connecting with others and taking an interest in their lives is at the core of what I try to do as a physician. I got to practice that often.”
While he studied, Dr. Cannon appreciated the challenge to think objectively while being aware of presuppositions and biases. “This led me to have a deeper faith in God and awe for His creation.” The Natural Sciences Department emphasized critical thinking, which Dr. Cannon still values today.
As he gained a deeper understanding about science and Creation, Dr. Cannon’s teachers also invested in his life. “Dr. Carlos Alvarez purposefully pushed us to not just memorize but to understand,” he shared. “Dr. Elijah Spencer took anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry concepts and helped us understand how they applied to medicine.”
“We were challenged to evaluate evidence and think objectively, while being aware of our presuppositions and biases. This led me have a deeper faith in God and awe for His creation.”
Challenged by the strong science coursework in the pre-medicine emphasis, Dr. Cannon also greatly benefited from the liberal arts education. “This made me well-rounded in terms of connecting with others outside of my medical field,” he shared. “The emphasis on good writing skills, critical thinking, and biblical philosophy prepared me well not only to survive the strenuous coursework of medical school but also to stand out as a servant to others through community outreach.”
“By the time I was finished at Pensacola Christian College, the combination of work ethic, academic distinction, and biblical worldview that was emphasized shaped me into a well-rounded graduate,” said Dr. Cannon.
Years in Medical School
After graduating from PCC, Dr. Jeffrey Cannon was accepted into medical school. He found that studying anesthesiology allowed him to do “a little bit of everything,” he explained. “From labor and delivery to pediatrics, from pain clinic to nerve blocks, from trauma resuscitation to critical care—anesthesiology has it all!”
Bedside manner is an important part of his job, and Dr. Cannon learned this skill from Dr. Gary Poling, who was his childhood family physician growing up in Beckley, West Virginia. “Talk about going full circle,” he said. As he spent a month shadowing Dr. Poling, Dr. Cannon gained a deeper understanding of how seasoned physicians are an integral part of their communities. “These patient experiences helped me understand that sometimes as medical professionals we must purposefully slow down and understand what the patient is truly trying to tell us so that we can provide care that fits with their goals.”
Because of the attention he gives each patient, Dr. Cannon received the Patricia “Pat” Fedeles Award for Compassion in Physical Diagnosis in 2017. This award is given to the student who portrays ongoing compassion, friendliness, and an overall caring attitude toward patients, peers, faculty, and staff. “I was humbled to be recognized in this way,” Dr. Cannon shared.
As he pursues a fellowship in critical care anesthesiology, Dr. Cannon plans to attend Harvard Medical School through Massachusetts General Hospital in July 2023. “This additional fellowship training will allow me to work in critical care units of different types,” he said. “I wanted to pursue this additional training in critical care so that I am well-rounded and able to care for different types of patients in different settings and scenarios.” All these experiences will better prepare him for future global mission work.
“I feel that my purpose in life is to share His love with others in any way that I can,” said Dr. Cannon. “If that’s through anesthesiology, great! If that’s through being a listening ear, wonderful. If that’s by helping someone else find their path in life, excellent. I simply want to be used by the Lord in any way that He sees fit.”
“I feel that my purpose in life it to share [God’s] love with others in any way that I can.”
Building upon a solid foundation in pre-medicine and servant-leadership from PCC, Dr. Jeffrey Cannon considers it a privilege to help his patients during some of their most trying moments. Whether their procedures were simple or life-altering, Dr. Cannon finds that being able to put their minds at ease, pray with them, and be a witness is an added blessing to his profession. “When people are having the worst day of their life, I get to help make a difference by providing compassionate care and service,” Dr. Cannon said. “Being a physician is an incredible gift.”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.