Its been a few days since I had time to sit down a blog. Life somehow seems to be determined to intrude in my social media communications efforts. School has gotten started. (We are already two science projects completed in the fourth grade -making a cell and completing a habitat. Those tadpoles the kids “rescued” from the pool earlier this spring came in handy after all.)
But I digress, I wanted to write about a missed opportunity I had for health care with a patient the other day. And it’s not what you think. I didn’t forget to write their blood pressure medicine, check their A1C (a blood test that tells a doctor how well a diabetics blood sugar has been controlled for the last three months) or forget to make sure that they were up to date on their screening colonoscopy. I forgot to sit down and take a moment in prayer with them.
Faith in medicine is far to often overlooked by most doctors, but held in deep regards by most of our patients. Whether that faith is Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Wiccan or one of the many other faiths held dear by our patients. We are not taught in medical school how to bridge this gap between the science of medicine and the faith of both ourselves and our patients.
Now, many doctors and healthcare providers have a great difficulty when it comes to dealing with faith. Dealing with large urban populations with diverse faiths and beliefs is challenging to say the least. Here in the middle of nowhere, I mainly deal with the many Protestant religious beliefs. The most challenging medically is that of the Jehovah’s witnesses but even they and I share a common ground in most things, just not in transfusions.
But getting back to my missed opportunity in healthcare, I was ask as I walked out of a room to pray for a patient’s ailing brother. I promised I would, but in the rush of a clinic day and my newness in thinking of faith as part of my job as a family doc, I walked on into the next room. It was only later at night as I finished my daily bible reading that I felt that I had missed an important part of that patient encounter. No, I will ever be able to bill or code for “prayer” and may even be counseled against thinking along these lines, but given my own beliefs in a higher spiritual power, I think I will watch for these faith based medical opportunities.
I am not naive enough to think that every physician will suddenly be comfortable enough in their own spiritual journey to counsel with their patients, but I think it can offer a comfort to patients when sometimes there is little else medicine can offer.