oncerning our medical care here in America, I’ve observed that we tend to separate and compartmentalize everything as if what's going on in our heart and our spirit and our body are separate. I think we are missing the whole picture. When addressing someone's physical need, it is important to recognize and address the rest of their needs as well. There are social and family factors. There are financial factors. There are emotional factors, cultural factors, spiritual factors. Caring for people is much more complicated than caring for diseases! But this is the real gift of being a physician.
My goal in patient care is to seek to see the whole person and to respectfully address the whole person.
Not only is this best for the patient, but, frankly, it helps them do better with surgery!
As a Christian, some people ask me how I address faith in my patient care. Do I pray with patients? Do I talk with them about Jesus and religion? These are great questions and I don’t have a simple answer. I guess the short answer is yes, sometimes. Maybe not enough? I want to do more? I will share a couple of thoughts about this.
First, one of the biggest issues on my mind in that regard is trust and gentleness. When people are seeing a surgeon, they are vulnerable. There is a very real “power” difference. It’s not that I’m “over” them, but they need help from me that they don’t fully understand. That puts them in a vulnerable place, and I must always respect that and behave in a gentle, understanding way. In our culture, faith is considered a private thing. Personally, I believe we should be a lot more open about it. But that is not our culture, and that may not represent the vulnerable person sitting or lying opposite me. So I tread carefully, try to read the signs, and try to discern if any such a move on my part will be helpful or harmful.
Second, I’m a struggling human like everyone else! It can be scary to talk to people about Jesus, and I feel that as well.
My goal is to do the right thing.
If I speak, I want to do so in gentleness and care when it is appropriate. If I do not speak, I want to do so because it is the right thing to do at that time and not because I’m fearful. I know that Jesus deeply loves that person and is wonderfully gentle toward them. I want to be the same.
I truly enjoy holistic care done with compassion and respect. I believe it is the best way to serve and care for human beings. And it is really encouraging to see people who are genuinely helped by that.