My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in~Proverbs 3:11-12

Humility is one of those things you wish you could grow in, but hate when it slaps you in the face. I recall a time when I was looking up information in a patient’s chart prior to seeing the patient in cardiology clinic, trying to figure out why the patient had developed syncope. As I was jotting down the information, the attending physician reprimanded me for copying the patient’s history before talking to the patient himself. “Always talk to the patient first! Never copy from the H&P (history and physical)!” he barked. My heart sank.

“My apologies,” I muttered. Why did he criticize me for something that seemed so harmless? Why did he have to do it in front of everyone? Questions like these raced through my mind as I walked sulkily toward my patient’s room.

I entered the room. Before me sat Mr. AH, a 52-year-old Hispanic male-stout and dressed in a polo shirt and slacks. Realizing he spoke only Spanish, I pulled out my hand-held interpreter phone, dialed the number, and waited for a response. Meanwhile, mentally, I was still stuck in the other room, replaying, in my mind, the events that had happened five minutes ago. I must be the worst medical student in the world.

I decided that whatever had happened was probably for my own good. “Hello, this is Maria, the Spanish interpreter. How may I help you today?” With the help of the interpreter, Mr. AH told me that he had been arguing with his wife regarding recent calls made by his wife to men he did not know. He said that these arguments had caused him a lot of anxiety and stress, and sometimes fainting spells.

“What should I do?” he asked. Tears welled in his eyes, as he paused for an answer from me. Putting aside my feelings of insecurity from earlier, I told him that as physicians we do not always know all the answers, and that many times patients find it helpful when we physicians ask God for help.

He agreed, and firmly grasping his hands, I said a brief, one-minute prayer for God’s presence to be with Mr. AH’s health and situation. Every word I prayed was translated to Spanish over the interpreter’s phone.

“Father, Thank you for your child, Mr. AH,” “Padre, gracias por su hijo, Sr. AH.”
“Thank you that we can look to You in the midst of the storms.” “Gracias porque podemos ver a usted en medio de las tormentas.”
“Amen.” “Amen.”

The words of C.S. Lewis never rang truer than at that moment: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” I will never forget the gratitude Mr. AH expressed verbally after the prayer. By the time I walked out of the room, I had forgotten what had distressed me earlier. Instead, I remembered why I was on this journey: to be intimately involved in the patient’s lives, and to meet their needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually.-Brian Wong, LLUSM class of 2014, is from La Crescenta, California. He graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a BS degree in psychobiology, and would like to be involved with providing quality medical care in underserved areas.