by Lindsey F.
I have wanted to be a doctor for a long time. The past three weeks in North Philly have only fueled my desire. One of the most important reasons that have influenced my desire to be a physician is the opportunity for patient relationships and the chance to share the Gospel in those relationships. Recently, I have had people tell me that even though medicine is a relational career, it is still difficult to have opportunities to actually share the Gospel. I have also come to understand that there are opportunities to witness to others in any career, whether that be co-workers or clients.
However, SMI has shown me that medicine is unique. There is a special opportunity for intimacy and vulnerability in a patient-physician relationship that is different from any other career. People open up and willingly share details of their life when they talk to a medical professional. And what better opportunity than to step through that door of vulnerability as a clinician and speak the single truth of the Gospel into a patient’s life.
Even going door-to-door in the community in our scrubs conjured up an aura of trust and openness in the people we interacted with. We knocked on the door of a young man who called himself a “gamer.” After his grandma’s passing 20 years ago, he had withdrawn into isolation. He explained to us how since then, he hasn’t felt the motivation to go out and instead sits in his house, takes care of his mother, and plays video games. I was shocked at how willing he was to divulge this information as he struck me as someone who wouldn’t care to open the door to strangers, much less talk to them. But he willingly told us about his mother’s medical issues and his own depression and anxiety. We used the opportunity to tell him about Jesus, encourage him to find a church and community, and invest in the hope of Christ’s love that allows us to put to death our suffering and to instead interact with and love on the people around us.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
One of our speakers here at SMI introduced us to a wealth of scientific literature, which shows that the vast majority (up to 80%) of patients want or support their doctor talking to them about spiritual or religious beliefs. I have also learned on this trip that there are many additional factors besides physical factors that affect health. These include socioeconomic status, home environment, job situation, and even spiritual status.
When I shadowed in the clinic during my first week of SMI, I saw a patient who was suffering from severe diabetes, hypertension, anxiety, and depression. Much of this was caused by extreme sadness because she had not seen her children in 18 years. She had moved from Puerto Rico for work and had not returned or seen her kids in person since. We listened, let her cry a little, and prayed over her, reassuring her that Christ’s love is the one thing that will never leave her, no matter where she or her children are. Long-distance relationships are difficult, but with God, we have company and security, and we got to share that truth with her in the exam room.
When a patient comes in to see the doctor, most of the time, they are suffering. They are experiencing some kind of pain, struggle, or confusion. The physician’s role is to come alongside to compassionately inform, comfort, and heal them. Physically AND spiritually. Meeting patients at their lowest, being the person to who they trust and open up their life to, and speaking truthfully to them are all factors that make medicine a perfect doorway to spreading the Gospel. I feel excited and extremely challenged to be entering this career and know that only through faith and trust in God will he give me opportunities to pray with my patients and share the one Truth that is the most important thing in life – much more important than physical healing!
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal but keep you spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.