The Privilege to Serve

In the humdrum of everyday life at the hospital, some things become routine – monitoring, blood extractions, IV insertions, facilitating requests, writing abstracts, interviewing patients and a whole lot of etceteras. We do these things again and again and again. Even when we’re tired. Even when we’re not fully awake. It’s almost like clockwork.

Apart from daily to-dos, we’re also an everyday witness to people’s lives. Everyday, we hear new stories, new symptoms, new complaints. Surely, there are too many to actually remember. Sometimes, the stories don’t even make it to our consciousness, just words we put on paper, answers we need to fill-up a form. It’s sad, but I don’t blame anyone who has to do this (myself included). A lot of times, the work really does become too much to handle. We become so tired and so fed up that we just want to get it over with.

In our misery, we tend to think like other people have it so easy. Some people will go through their whole lives without ever getting blood on their hands. Or urine on their clothes. Or amniotic fluid sprayed all over them. Some will never see a dead body, a mourning family, or a terminally ill child. These people will have eight hours of sleep and three meals a day (and on time), not to mention enough time for the people they love.

On the flipside, though, there’s also an inexplicable sparkle to what we do. Others may never have to go through all this work, but they’ll also never hear a newborn’s first cry, or see an unconscious patient wake up, or witness an amputee go back to work. There are smiles they won’t see and thank yous they won’t hear. These are little things, and maybe for some, unimportant ones at that. But somehow, these are the ones that matter. They matter because they come with a story. These people are vulnerable; they come to us at their worst, desperate for another chance, trusting us to find another way.

We do so much every single day that we tend to underestimate what we do, and more importantly, what more we can do. We have this amazing opportunity to influence lives, to be part of their journey, their triumph, and if we need to, their defeat. Our work is both a privilege and a responsibility. We are trained, mentored, and moulded to become the very best we can be, because every day, people will need our very best. Every day, someone’s life will depend on the choices we make. We tend to take what we do for granted. We think we won’t make a difference, but really, we can, and should we want to, we will.

Think of how far you’ve come, of how much you’ve been through, of how much better you are now than you were before. Treasure that change, that capacity, that immense potential. We have this extraordinary chance to serve, to heal, and to comfort, and I hope we always use it the best way we can.

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