So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
(Deuteronomy 10:12, NRSV)
Varner J.Johns Jr., LLUSM class of 1945, was chair of medicine and chief of cardiology for many years during the development and growth Loma Linda University during the 1950s and through the 1980s. Many medical students and house officers had the opportunity to observe and learn during teaching rounds with Dr. Johns on cardiology service. I was fortunate to be one of them.
Dr.Johns was a devotee of the art of physical diagnosis, as well as a talented teacher. His observational skills at the bedside were legendary, leading to frequently organized trainee attempts to trick him by enlisting the aid of patients in producing false historical and/ or physical evidence. But I was never aware of any successful attempts at leading him astray. He always took such things in good humor and turned these events into teaching points. This approach tended to turn rounds into a friendly competition, leading to enhanced learning.
He always followed daily rounds by retiring to a small conference room on the unit to discuss a carefully prepared topic of his choosing. The most memorable topic from these morning meetings, and one that has stayed with me all these years, was his discussion of “professionalism.”
He asked, “What is it that sets the professional apart from the tradesman, craftsman, businessman, salesman, industrialist, or skilled laborer? It is not the important basic personal attributes such as honesty, industry, dependability, perseverance, intelligence, or initiative—traits that may be common to all.
“There are, however, crucial differences that set the professions apart from all other field of endeavor. The first is the long and intensive academic preparation that is required. The second is selfless service. There must be a willingness to serve without regard for personal comfort or convenience and, at times, without monetary or material rewards.
“A third characteristic that sets the professions apart is the devotion to scholarship. There is a perpetual search for truth and a sincere desire to share this truth—in contrast to the business world, where there is frequently a competitive hoarding of knowledge for selfish benefit. The professional has an insatiable thirst for shared knowledge and truth that results in a life-long quest.
“The Christian, who is also a member of one of the professions, should have a deep yearning to introduce God to his fellow man. Those who know God will love Him, and those who love Him will also serve Him. This knowledge of God will not be imparted by sermons, but by the demonstration of dedication to loving care, in the life of the professional person, for those he serves with superior skill. In such a life, the character and teachings of Christ will be reflected and will provide a dynamic and an impelling Christian witness.”
– David B. Hinshaw Jr, LLUSM class of 1971