My wife is a writer. She writes everything from murder ministries, for which I am occasionally the in-house consultant, to a humor column and, of course, a blog. For years she has written a column at this time of year about the weird things that she is thankful for. You can read this year’s list here.
I am not the accomplished writer that my wife is. What I do write is usually about ethics and medicine. I also like to reflect at this time of year about what I am thankful for. The other day I received an invitation to the 40th year reunion of my medical school class which will be held next May. That got me thinking about what I have experienced over nearly 40 years of being a physician.
When I look back, the thing that I am most thankful for is the opportunity to be involved in the lives of those who have been my patients. Medicine is a relational profession. The people that we care for allow us to become intimately involved in their lives. No matter how much technology we employ it is the relationship between a person in need in a person with the training and skills to help with that need that is the foundation of the medical profession. My patients have allowed me to share with them their joys and their sorrows. I have shared the joy of a new life coming into the world and the joy of recovery from a serious illness. But the most meaningful times have been those in which there was very little that I could do beyond being there with those for whom nothing more could be done and letting them know that I cared about them.
I thank God for the opportunity to share in the lives of those who have chosen to call me their family doctor.