Nothing makes me more frustrated than when I can’t fix a patient’s problem.
I'm reminded of a scene from Grey’s Anatomy when Dr. Burke sees Christina Yang panicking as she runs out of medical options to help a patient having a heart attack after a transplant. “The way you’re feeling right now is why I have to believe in something bigger than myself because, if I didn’t, that powerless feeling would eat me alive,” Dr. Burke told her.
In my experience as a new nurse, I know this feeling well, such as when a patient's blood pressure won't go down, or a fever persistently spikes. Or when I care for a mother who has just lost her newborn baby and, no matter how much I want to make it better, nothing I say will bring her baby back. As healthcare professionals, we are a “fix it” type of people. But as I have learned very quickly, this mentality is debilitating.
When we think we have the power to heal, we can be debilitated by that feeling of power. We take on the weight and responsibility of the patient’s illness when it is not ours to take. When I do this, I am consumed by fear. “Did I do all that I could do? What did I do wrong? How can I redeem this terrible situation?” There is no peace.
I am learning that God is God and I am not. I am his servant, put on my unit to love and care for my patients as he loves me, to point them to him. Every time I walk into a patient's room, the Lord is with me. He is healing the patients. He is comforting them in their darkest hour. I am just his hands and feet. Any good I do is because the Lord is doing it through me. This truth makes me take a deep breath and rest in the Lord’s unfailing goodness. It is not my job to heal.
The following excerpt is from Called to Care: A Christian Worldview for Nursing by Judith Allen Shelly and Arlene B. Miller:
“We are able to participate in the work of God’s kingdom. We are not left on our own to try to conjure up the power and ability to face the weight of suffering and death in nursing; the Holy Spirit gives us what we need. Once we realize that we do all good things in partnership with God, we can relax and allow him to work through us. Life, including nursing, becomes an amazing adventure where we are constantly surprised by God’s great goodness.”
--by Miriam Robinson
Miriam graduated from East Carolina University in December 2009. She works on a Medical Surgical Unit at the Women's Hospital of Greensboro. Miriam lives in an inner-city neighborhood with families and other singles from her church that minister in their community. Her blog is http://truthinthemidst.blogspot.com/.