“My relationship with Jesus allows me to invite grace into the midst of pain and brokenness.”
Steve Mitchell is an E.R. Physician based out of Seattle, Washington. On a daily basis, he meets disease, pain, and suffering with the transformational grace and love of Jesus Christ.
How does your relationship with Jesus inform your approach to patient care?
There are two primary goals when caring for patients. One, provide care based on sound clinical advice and treatment. This recognizes the need to keep pursuing truth and knowledge within the science of medicine. Second, provide care that extends beyond the physical needs of their medical complaints. This requires the clinician to both “have ears to hear” and the willingness to respond to those needs. Allowing yourself to see a person’s emotional and spiritual needs allows you to more fully care for the patient and extend God’s love. Coming alongside people at an emergency department is a unique experience. Most often a person’s pretense of control with which they live their lives is stripped away leaving them particularly vulnerable and often scared. Having the eyes and ears to recognize this helps those providing care to more fully care and provide patients with the help they need during their crisis. In these moments, it is also critical to remember that each of us is created in the image of God. All lives are sacred, regardless of the package they come in. As CS Lewis writes, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (Weight of Glory) (Luke 10:25-37)
What does servant leadership look like working in a hospital setting?
Servant leadership in the hospital setting is no different than in any other setting. Jesus calls us (Matthew 22: 36-40 and Luke 10:25-37) to love our neighbor as ourselves after first loving God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is true for those in authority over us by respecting their position and having each person’s best in mind when serving them. It also involves those who we are asked to supervise or be in authority over. We are called to love each as we love ourselves. We are to engage those we serve with in a truthful, kind and generous way that extends the love of Jesus regardless of their particular position. This may mean fierce engagement with those we disagree with, but it is done from a place humility and caring. This may also mean using power acquired from your position to extend the greatest commandment. In the context of the Last Supper, notice how Jesus’ model of service is extended to both those who were his friends and the one who would turn and betray him.
How do you stay cool and composed amidst pain, suffering, and even death in the ER?
Having a worldview that believes at its core that Jesus can absorb and transform the brokenness we witness keeps me sane and offers hope. We see so much pain and suffering that is both man made and that which is seemingly random. There are no easy or pat answers to
seeing lives destroyed by things both within and outside their control. The promises of grace, redemption and transformation extend to everyone. This gives me hope and allows me to live in gratitude.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering the healthcare profession?
Healthcare is a calling and great privilege that allows you to care for people in unique and meaningful ways. However, it is not life giving if you are not called to care for people in this way. A clue to Gods calling is always found in those things that lead to your heart’s deep gladness. Ask yourself: what in your life makes you particularly joyful and excited? What keeps you awake at night dreaming? What unique thing do you have a hard time putting down when learning and studying? How does that which makes you joyful intersect with the world’s deep needs? As Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC)