You’re in Med School, And Had Time For A Blog?

You will spend 30-40 hours a week studying. You will give up on seeing your family as they take a back seat to your career aspirations. You will choose between anything you ever cherished and instead dwell in dark closets investigating the infinite galaxies of pathology power points. You may only smile when you get a good grade on a test. You will lose any compassion you used to have for patients as you plumb the depths of human depravity and greed in the healthcare system. You will sleep less than necessary for a human being and be absolutely miserable forever.

Med School feels like this dark cave sometimes.

Yeesh, that’s harsh… and not exactly what having my dream coming true of getting into med school looked like. For many students that is the grim reality of medical school though. It’s dark, painful, and in the end questionably rewarding. Physician burn out is a thing and it starts for most at the genesis of the medical education journey.

Burned out physician? Sacrifice my family? Abandon my faith? No thank you! There is no satisfaction in achievement if you have sacrificed everything to acquire an unfulfilling goal. There isn’t even the possibility of doing something for God’s glory if you have abandoned every notion of what it means to honor Him while in pursuit of yourself.

Life can be more though. More than burnout, more than exhaustion, more than self-service.

It can also be very messy, and chaotic, and beautiful because God provides grace for our challenges. My grace comes through finding meaningful things to do outside of medical school.

Being married to an awesome man who does medical school with me but also life outside of medical school has been a tremendous encouragement. Living on 3 acres gives us plenty of room to experiment with mushroom foraging, gardening, and our two dogs Willow and Espresso. Working with our church’s youth group keeps us accountable for regular attendance and is an awesome breath of fresh air to our souls as we work with the people of God and invest in young people. It doesn’t get any better!

Or maybe it does! We learn to make cheese together, started blogs to develop another professional skill-set to use when we (Lord willing) have our own practice, we go camping together, we spend time with our families on weekends we don’t have tests, and drinking lots of coffee. And we do study because we want to save lives in the future. Our goal is to be physicians, and business owners, community members, a family, and to chase many other dreams. But, our identity remains in Christ – NOT in just where we are in life. That’s the real secret to fulfillment and joy.

Beautiful sunrise though icy whorls on my living room window this morning. Incredibly beautiful reminder that God has a lot of things to see outside of school.

Life can be difficult, but we also have tremendous blessings and opportunities to enjoy the journey regardless of our occupation. Some jobs are hard and relatively joyless while others are exciting, but we all have the choice to glorify God with our life and find fulfillment in our work. Blogging was just another creative outlet for me to avoid the ordinary and make life more fulfilling. Yes, it takes away from studying and a tight schedule but hey, that’s okay. No dark caves for me all the time. Hopefully not for you either! I’m so glad you’ve tagged along for the crazy ride – more adventures to come soon. <3

How do you keep life meaningful and in pursuit of His glory?

Holiday Health Check. How Are You Spiritually?

Wait! Stop Winter! You’re running over fall. Be nice and wait your turn! Goodness, 4 inches of snow and a week of frigid temperatures does not look like a typical early Oklahoma November. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday but it is being run over by Christmas with this weather. I just can’t keep a Thanksgiving mindset when I run to the store and they’re playing Christmas carols while it’s snowing outside! But I am trying to be grateful, the snow is pretty and God controls the weather too. Anyway, Thanksgiving is still coming and Christmas right behind it, providing the perfect season for a little soul searching. How is your spiritual health?

Our backyard, this view was gorgeous that morning

Priorities: How are you prioritizing God in your life? Are you investing in your daily spiritual walk? Maybe think about picking up a new podcast this week. Below are links to two, the first is a 5 minute once weekly podcast and the second is a longer podcast. I absolutely love the 5 Minutes in Church History one, it’s time efficient, thorough, and entertaining. The second one is totally worth your time with sound, deep, biblical teaching that will keep you grounded in your faith.

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols

Grace to You Podcast – John McArthur

How about time in Scripture? You don’t have to wait till New Years to try to pick up a new habit of daily reading or to renew your former habit. We miss out on so many blessings when we don’t have His words on our heart daily. Engaging an accountability partner is a great idea to help each other out too.

Attitude. This one is a hard one for me. Remembering to be a thankful person who trusts God for what’s next can be a challenge; but if we trust Him to redeem us by His love and grace we have to trust Him with the rest of our lives too. We can’t be complaining, gossiping, irritable, people. We are called to be joyful, encouraging, patient followers of Christ. Does your attitude reflect your newness of life?

Compassion. Holidays are easy times to think of others but right here on the edge of the holiday season and following the season to the rest of the year, we have the privilege of  being the heart and hands of Christ to a church and world filled with hurting people. Visit a home-bound member of your church. Volunteer around your community. Watch the kids of a young couple at your church free of charge because they just need a break. Send a card to a person who recently experienced crippling loss. Buy coffee for a young person (not too young lol) and ask them about life. Experience the joys of having an overflowing heart when you choose to love the people around you.

Faith. Can you defend yours? What exactly do you believe? If you came across a high school friend on the street could you share your testimony with them? These are tough questions and the answers require a lot of diligent study, thought, effort, and prayer. It’s the 21st century, Christianity is still under constant bombardment from all sides. As a soldier of Christ we have to put on the full armor of God and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks.

Many Christians today are considered “nominal” meaning they show up on Sundays and Wednesdays (sometimes), live to check boxes that earn them points toward heaven, only live pure lives in church service, or overbook their lives so that church and the things of God are just an afterthought. Are you a nominal Christian? Or are you a passionate follower of Christ, your Savior,  who takes joy in pursuing righteousness, and live a life that beams the light of truth to those around you?  Take this spiritual health check seriously and let’s be accurate reflections of the church we are called to be. 🙂
If you have a family the infographic below has some fun ideas:

What are ways you stay accountable for your spiritual health? 🙂

Other Tips:

  • This is not an exhaustive list
  • This is not a “to-do” list
  • This can be a fun exercise, especially with a spouse, friend, or family

Whole Person Care and You

Heavy breathing filled the tiny exam room. The rancid smell of a patient who hadn’t showered in who knows how long, smoked heavily, and weighed 300 lbs was overpowering. Greasy strands of hair clung to her face as she hunched over in her chair in her miserable existence. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t pleasant, and it wasn’t exactly what people picture getting to be a “doctor” would be like.

The description evokes a powerful image. This patient was just a theoretical one but I have seen many just like her over several clinical experiences. You may have seen people like this at Walmart or walking down the street. Same characteristic shuffle, with no hope in their eyes and no joy in their heart.

So as a physician what do we do with her? I can give her the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number just like I did the last 3 visits. I can ask her about her diet for the umpteenth time. I can tell her the importance of personal hygiene for preventing weird infections. But none of that matters. That isn’t what she needs.

Spiritual Patient Care

What does she need? She needs a physician who can see the whole picture, the whole person, the whole problem. The idea of whole person medicine is hardly a new one with Osteopathic medicine championing the philosophy since it’s origin in 1874. It emphasizes spiritual care with body and mind care, and is one of the reasons why as a Christian I am so excited to be studying Osteopathic medicine. She needs a doctor who can share with her the good news of the gospel, who can ask about her spiritual health, who can pray with her in her difficult journey, who can point her to a supportive church family.

Christians in any field and especially medicine we need to be concerned with spiritual well being of others. Research supports that better patient care happens when physicians care for all aspects of their patients. In fact, 70% of patients actually want their physician to ask about spiritual needs. End of life costs drop dramatically when patients report being quality spiritual care too. Following our own faith has blessings in many forms, even better patient outcomes and satisfaction. I hope we never forget that.

Pray with Your Patients

Well our theoretical patient needs a satisfying end to her story. After talking with her about what gave her strength in life and she said she didn’t have any and was considering suicide we were able to recommend appropriate mental health services and a local pastor. She further opened up and said she began smoking and having poor dietary habits after a childhood filled with horrible abuse, both sexual and physical.  Her story was so much bigger than her list of problems showing up in our clinic, but God’s grace was bigger still. Be a part of the solution and work to see the whole person in your journey in life. <3

P.S. this post was inspired after hearing a guest speaker at our school on taking a spiritual history.