The first expression of religion I’ve seen from an attending happened more than 9 months into my first clinical year:
A very, very sick pre-teen that we made sicker with chemotherapy wasn’t initially improving when he should have been, and the oncologist told us that she hasn’t slept in days, worrying about the child’s health. After another sleepless night, she told us that she
“Sat down and just prayed. Just prayed that [the child] would be okay, and that his counts would come back. I figured it couldn’t hurt. And then my daughter came into the room, and asked me what I was doing. And I said, ‘I’m praying for a little sick child who needs to get better,’ and my daughter decided to pray with me. And then my other daughter walked in, not saying a word, and sat down, bowing her head as well. After about a minute, she whispered, ‘What are we doing?’”
The attending on staff said that he knows an Indian adult oncologist who can get 1,500 people praying for a patient back in her hometown at a phonecall’s notice.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. Kate and Matthew discuss a Forbes article noting that doctors are more religious than the general public, at least according to the survey. I think it’s easy in medicine to lose faith in God or religion day-to-day; you see terrible tragedies walk into your office or hospital on a regular basis. But I think there’s probably a part of many physicians that at least hopes there’s something more to all of this, something out of our control. It’s not something that we can rely on–but at least something that we can try to call upon when our medicines simply aren’t enough, or when we could really use the scale to tip in the right direction.
One of the many reasons medicine’s an art, not a science.