Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.
(Isaiah 26:4, KJV)
Shortly after completing my fellowship, I encountered a particularly complicated neurology case and dropped by the office of my senior colleague, Robert “Bob” Shields, to ask for advice. Bob, trained by the prominent American neurologist, Maurice Victor, related a story from his residency days at Metrohealth Hospitals in Cleveland Ohio.
Back then, hospitalized patients were followed (cared for) by the resident student doctors and only the most difficult or interesting cases were presented to the attending physician. One day, Bob encountered a patient with a complex neurological problem. He decided that the case warranted an opinion from the all-knowing Dr. Victor.
After Bob presented the details of the case, Dr Victor thought for a while, then leaned back in his chair, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Well, Bob, this case is too tough for me!” That was it; one of the foremost neurologists had considered all the diagnostic possibilities within his vast knowledge base and had come up short.
At the time, Bob’s story made me feel a little better about not knowing the answer to everything. Since then, I have come to appreciate that getting the right diagnosis is only one part of a physician’s duty. Medicine doesn’t always provide us with clear-cut choices, and medicine isn’t just about being right or wrong. It’s also about establishing a trusting relationship with our patients, so we can walk side-by-side down the path of life and share in the good and bad times together. To do this effectively, we must have the same faith-based relationship with our healthcare colleagues, and most importantly, with God.
Intelligence, diligent study, and advances in modern medicine may carry us far, but they are finite. Thus, it’s natural at times to feel “things are too tough for me.” It’s safe to say that in the course of our lives, we will inevitably face– either with a patient, a loved one, or even ourselves–an incurable or relentless disease.
Fortunately, we have an eternal promise from the ultimate Healer that, if we place the lives of our patients and ourselves into His hands, we have nothing to fear. His answer will be to heal, either in this world or next. All we have to do is ask and trust and He will carry us through the difficult times; nothing is too tough for Him.
-Bryan Tsao, LLUSM class of 1996