Those of us in the healing professions are trained to achieve success. Our desire to help others is what brought us into our chosen fields.
Most of us are “fix it” people. Our ability to fix people is what brings us satisfaction. And usually it brings satisfaction to our patients as well.
But what happens when we make great efforts and in spite of our best work, our patients don’t respond as we hoped? Their illnesses are not cured, there are unforeseen complications, and sometimes people die.
In my career as a nurse, I have watched many health care providers react in various ways.
For many, the possibility that they have failed is too much to bear. They find ways to blame the patient.
Or if the unexplainable happens, they simply label the patient as “crazy.” The patient’s perceptions are all off.
I have seen some doctors simply tell their patients they are “not a good fit” and perhaps they should see someone else.
If they continue to see the patient, it is only behind the wall of forced “social facade” they would call just “being professional.” They do the minimum and see the patient only briefly before moving on.
Is it possible our definition of “failure” is far too restrictive? Is it possible we have come to equate our own power to effect change as the only success?
Have we forgotten we are not The Authors of healing? We are not the skilled handlers of the instruments. We are in fact the instruments of Compassion in The Hands of Almighty God!
As many examples of hardness as I have witnessed, I treasure the acts of compassion I have seen.
A patient came into the hospital for diagnostic tests. He walked up to the nurses station and had a major heart attack. The code team rushed in, but could not save him.
His doctor was devastated, but instead of leaving when the team left, he sat on the floor and held his patient in his arms and cried. He was linked in heart and he openly grieved.
I have seen doctors, in a rare show of bravery, admit their failures to patients, and say, “I’m sorry. I should have caught this, but I didn’t. Let’s try this again.”
I have seen doctors admit they simply did not know what was wrong with their patients nor did they know what to do. But they cared. They did not leave their patients in the valley of the unknown. They stayed and comforted them.
I have seen doctors tell patients an uncomfortable truth, but instead of delivering bad news and quickly exiting, they stayed and comforted.
I have had a couple of years of unforeseen medical/dental misadventures. I have seen many doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care providers. They have run the gamut of all I witnessed as a nurse.
But I have been blessed to find some who were willing to face their own powerlessness and enter the valley of suffering with me. Most importantly, they prayed with me, turning over the whole situation to The Only One with All The Answers.
When I expressed gratitude to one of my doctors, he seemed surprised. He said, “I do what I do because I am called by God to do it. He gave me all I have and I share what I have through God’s Grace and Mercy.”
He and others like him are the jewels in God’s crown. They are not only The Hands and Feet of Jesus, but they are also His Face.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.