During the end of 2017 our volunteer team is focusing in on our core values which make up the acronym CARED. You can read more about our mission, vision, and values on the “about us” part of our website, but for today we want to focus in on our third value (the one we’re highlighting for the month of October). The R stands for RELATIONAL. Here’s our long time volunteer and newest staff member, Laura Dever’s, take on how this core value plays out.
How do we make medicine relational here at the clinic?
To start, it’s impossible to relate to someone we do not see.
I’m reminded of Zacchaeus, in Luke 19, who climbed up a tree thinking Jesus wouldn’t necessarily see him, but he would at least get to see Jesus coming through the crowds. To Zacchaeus’ surprise, Jesus did see him, a little man with a broken past. Jesus came to where he was, looked up and spoke to him and went with him to his house. Zacchaeus’ response? He was thankful and glad that he was seen and invited into a relationship. He was so thankful that he righted the wrongs in his life and found freedom in a relationship with Jesus.
Many patients coming to our clinic walk in with the similar expectation Zacchaeus had when he climbed that tree. They are here, hoping to see a doctor, but not necessarily anticipating to be seen by one beyond the medical part of their visit. They come expecting normal medical lingo during intake, answering questions about their medical history and symptoms.
But we aren’t any normal clinic. As we aim to reflect the love of Jesus during our visits, the normal patient interaction shifts. At our clinic that means asking about more than a patient’s medical history. We want to see our patients more deeply, looking beyond the chief complaint that had them come in our doors, and seeing the whole human that’s visiting with us that day.
One simple way we do that in our patient rooms is by making it a goal to ask that one extra question that may give insight to their current situation and relate more to what’s going on in their life. This does not mean our volunteers have a list of deep personal questions they go through with every patient. No, this simply means asking our patients about their tattoo, a hobby they have, what they did this weekend, what family or friend they brought with them, or what they plan on doing with the rest of their day.
Questions like these help us to truly see our patients and get to know them beyond their medical complaint. We make medicine relational, not transactional, and once we know more about the person we’re interacting with we’re better equipped to meet the holistic needs of the patient in front of us. How can we fix back pain if we are so rushed or dismissive that we don’t find out about the patient’s job, which is a main contributor? Good medicine demands being relational, and the gospel is centered on a relational message.
I have seen this done so well here by so many volunteers and staff. Some of the best stories I’ve heard started with a person sitting down in a room in front of another human being, looking them in the eyes and asking genuinely, “How are you doing?”. To be relational is a rarity in our day in age where transactions are the norm and expected. Think about your time in the grocery store, gas station, restaurants, etc. Although we are interacting with other humans, we’re not really getting to know them. Conversations are full of platitudes and usually boil down to an attitude of “you give me this, I’ll give you that”.
We want to be a drastically different interaction in our patient’s daily lives. We want this clinic to be a place where people are met by friends who care about more than just their physical problems. Friends who want to know the health of the person as a whole: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Friends that actually see them for the whole human being that they are.
At the end of the day, we do this because we know Jesus has come down to us, seen every part of our broken lives, and still chose to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him. What a privilege it is to reflect His relational heart through our daily interactions here!