I was rifling through a box of papers from the days of my first few years of practice in the small town of Chemainus (1994-1998). The beginning of learning how to care for patients and fit into the medical system. I came across a folded up piece of paper that I recognized as one I had carried in my lab coat pocket for many of those early years…
Ode to Patient Care
If we speak with the tongues of specialists and consultants,
and have not love, we will have nothing more than the noise
of our own voices and the clanging of pet ideas.
If we develop new methods, write new curriculum,
and learn new techniques,
and if we understand all about the five stages of dying
so that we are not surprised when a patient is angry or depressed:
and yet we have not love, we are useless.
If we give up our old anxieties about talking with patients
concerning their true feeling,
but we have not love, we gain nothing.
Love never ends.
As for tumour conferences,
they will pass away;
As for workshops,
they will cease;
As for inservice training,
it will change.
For our methods are always imperfect
and our plans often don’t work out.
When I first became a helper, I thought like an idealist
and talked like an expert.
As I began to mature, I realized that I too was afraid
and the patient often taught me.
For now we see only reflections of sickness and death,
but someday we will see them face to face.
And the time will come when we will know for sure what it is like,
and we will be sorry we ever judged.
So methods, techniques, case conferences, care plans,
seminars, small group experiences, counselling-
There is all this and much more we would suggest for
gaining insight and increasing effectiveness:
But greater than all of these is love.
Now posted once again where I practice daily so I can be reminded of what really matters….