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The daily stresses faced by those who serve in health care can lead to feelings of overwhelm, compassion fatigue, and burnout. This incredibly rewarding field of service comes with a cost, and in the midst of so much difficulty, particularly after a year of valiantly fighting a global pandemic, the “why,” the “calling,” and the passion behind the practice of medicine sometimes blurs or disappears altogether. Recently, during AdventHealth Manchester’s weekly Prayer and Devotion call for team members, Dr. Anita Cornett, CMO shared her testimony of God’s reminder to bloom where she has been planted and the true purpose of her calling into the mission of medicine.
Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with everything I have to do. Every day it seems multiple people and places need something from me, and they need it “now.” More often than not, it’s one of the nursing homes that has a question, form, or other task that needs to be addressed “right now.” In the midst of a packed clinic schedule I feel bombarded—my phone rings multiple times, dozens of pages of labs are faxed and placed in front of me to address, pages of info on potential new admissions—all to be addressed “immediately” or “urgently.” Meanwhile, my charting is falling behind as I’m trying to address all these requests between patients. Lately, I have found myself thinking about how I could transition out of this nursing home world and feeling like I’m not doing a good job in any arena of my life.
Tuesday, I had meetings all morning and knew I had to try to see a full day’s schedule of nursing home patients in the afternoon. Whenever I go there, I’m stopped by multiple patients as I’m trying to walk down the corridor to my destination. Some want to tell on their roommate for something, many want to know when they can go home, others want to show me a bruise or a skin tear, one little man always has to complain that he doesn’t get enough chewing tobacco, and some just want a hug.
In these moments, I’m reminded, in spite of the chaos, how much I love working in the nursing home. No matter how discouraged I am feeling, these little toothless humans with beautiful souls make me smile. I made my way to the very end of the hall to see a new patient: a tall, lanky man with a big smile, laying in bed. I was taking his history and asked him if he ever smoked. He told me that he quit 50 years ago and that he gave his last pack of cigarettes to his mining supervisor. He then stated that this supervisor “went to church” and was a good man. I asked him if he went to church. He stated, “no, I don’t go to church.” Then, he looked up at me with a questioning eye and stated, “ I have heard that if you don’t go to church, that right before you die, God will give you a chance to make things right so you can go to Heaven.” I told him that I thought that was probably true, but that we don’t have to wait until right before we die to make things right, and we don’t have to be in a church to make things right. I told him he could do that laying right there in his bed. He said he didn’t know how to do that. I told him that he just needed to believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he died for our sins, and rose from the grave, ask Him to forgive us, and come into our hearts to live. He said he didn’t know how to say all that. I asked if he wanted me to help him, that he could repeat after me. He eagerly said, “yes, I want that. Do I just say what you say?” I said yes, and a led him in a simple prayer of salvation. He asked for forgiveness, professed his belief that Jesus is the son of God, asked Him to come into his heart. We said, “amen” and he said, “Is that it?” I said, “yes, that’s it.” He said with a big smile, “well, that was easy, so I’m going to Heaven when I die?” I happily answered, “yes.” Then he said, “well, I’ll get to see you there!” I told him yes, and that I’m sure we’d be good friends in Heaven.
I finished my visit and as I was walking out of his room he called out “Hey doctor!” I turned back and said “yes?” He said, “this turned out to be a pretty good day after all!” I said, “yes, you are absolutely right!”
In the time since Dr. Cornett shared this devotion, her patient, that she had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with, has passed away. Dr. Cornett shared, “When I learned of his passing, my heart leaped with gratitude, knowing that he is in heaven with Jesus and probably having a beautiful reunion with his mining supervisor who ‘went to church.’”
Though the challenges and burdens of this sacred profession are heavy, Dr. Cornett’s story is a beautiful reminder of God’s grace and ability to fill our cups and restore our souls, helping us to bloom where we are planted and refocus on His calling and mission for us to extend His healing ministry to the bodies, souls, minds, and spirits of our patients.