Sarah Rodriguez: The Spirit of the Healer

Read essays by Justin Bowles and Sarah Rodriguez, the CHM seniors who were selected to receive the Hough Scholarship for 2012.



Sarah Rodriguez

The essence of what doctors do revolves around serving every patient to the best of his or her capacity. These patients come from all walks of life and put their trust in doctors to provide healing care. The spirit of the healer is blind to racial, religious, and socio-economic differences and sees each patient as an opportunity to serve and have an impact. A passion for caring and healing is the common thread that ties together those who are truly called to medicine.

In order to embody the spirit of the healer, a doctor must allow the patient to tell his or her story. In essence, healing begins with this initial release from the patient. Through listening, the doctor is able to realize what the patient is in need of. Sometimes, the patient simply needs a trusted advisor to listen to their problems. Other times, the patient needs the doctor to put the pieces together of the puzzle and prescribe medicine or order tests. And, on occasion the patient just needs reassurance that nothing is wrong at all and that everything will be okay.

Listening combined with compassion are essential ingredients of the spirit of the healer. One particular doctor and friend of the family, who recently passed away, was a true example of the qualities of the spirit of the healer. He would spend extra time with patients who he sensed were lonely or needed more time to talk, and he would even visit some of his patients at home who were not able to physically drive to his office. Through his actions, this doctor was an agent in the healing of his patients. He placed his patients before himself and tried to think of what his patients were going through and how he could serve them best.

A doctor in and of himself or herself is not the healer, but rather uses all of the available resources to help a patient heal. Sometimes all a patient needs is medication. At other times the patient needs a referral. And yet every now and then there is nothing further that the doctor can offer to the patient in terms of medical treatment. This is the challenge in cases such as terminal illnesses where the function of medicine has met its reasonable boundaries. Nevertheless, the doctor can still play a very indispensable role in making the patient feel comfortable. When western medicine has nothing further to offer, the spirit of the healer is to help the patient with his or her journey and provide support in making decisions. Perhaps this is when the patient needs the physician the most.

The physician who embraces the spirit of the healer is with the patient through the most miraculous victories of healing as well as the dramatic and heart breaking losses. Through it all, the physician is there to guide the patient through their medical journey with compassion and strength. Disease knows no boundaries between races, religion, socio-economic status, or age. With this in mind, the physician must listen to patients from all walks of life with a consistent level of unwavering compassion. As I embark on my own journey of becoming a family physician, I aspire to lace my own practice with compassion, listening, and dedication to each and every one of my patients. These are the qualities that Dr. David O. Hough and many other great physicians have used to establish their legacies. Their legacies will continue.