Oxford Dictionary: Teach (v.)
1. Impart knowledge to or instruct (someone) as to how to do something.
2. Cause (someone) to learn or understand something by example or experience.
Oxford Dictionary: Doctor (n.)
A person who is qualified to treat people who are ill.
We love teaching…doctors. Neither of us would do well spending hours a day in a classroom full of children (gasp!) or teenagers. There is a special place in heaven for those God made to be teachers of children. We both love kids, Jared is a pediatrician!
Teaching adults is another beast all together. There are no temper tantrums, fist fights or drama involved…generally. Adults come with the special challenge of pride and bad habits. Not all adult learners have these particular traits, but doctors are notorious for thinking and acting like they are the smartest person in the room.
So what happens when the “smartest person in the room” is no longer the actual smartest person the room? Its not pretty.
In general the ugly result is all internal, which is where pride and self preservation are helpful. None the less, every new doctor struggles with the new reality that they do not know ANYTHING. At least it feels like we do not know anything in the beginning.
We both have specific (painful) memories of being humbled by clinical errors, wrong diagnosis, and just being downright wrong. Then there are the times we did not explain something correctly to a family which resulted in confusion and emotional strain for everyone. We both have our own way of responding, coping and learning from those situations. In every situation we talked to one another and prayed…hard.
Its easy to have your spirit and all your self-confidence broken during medical school and residency. Praise God we had one another to help keep ourselves grounded in God’s plan for our life.
Learning to be a doctor and clinician in Kenya is a bit different than in the USA, but the fundamentals of human character are not. That is were we come in…the clinical instructor, supervisor, consultant (name outside USA), attending physician (name in USA)…teacher.
We moved all the way from America, our family, friends, good job security and a comfortable life to work in a rural Kenyan mission hospital because we love to teach. Not just because we want to teach doctors how to provide good medical care, but also how to love their patients with the love of Christ.
We model how to examine patients properly and how to decide which medications to prescribe. Hours a day are spent at the bedside of dozens of patients, helping our interns navigate the complexities of disease. We want them to walk away from their time at Chogoria with more than an understanding of diseases and likely patient outcomes.
We have been called to help them see each patient as one of God’s children. Each soul we care for has been created by God with intention and purpose. Each patient is another opportunity to model compassion and empathy.
Making a malnourished child smile, holding the hand of frail woman dying of HIV, praying with the son of a man diagnosed with end stage prostate cancer, handing a tissue to the mother of a newborn that did not survive. These are painful, beautiful moments of opportunity to show our learners, nurses and patients why God called us to Africa.
Christ was constantly teaching everyone, everywhere he went. He taught through stories but mostly through example. He LIVED his teachings, modeled the way he wants us to be, how he wants our hearts to pray, love, and serve others.