In the process of becoming a doctor, a healer, we often forget that we are humans too who need the same care that we provide. Often times, we indulge too much in studying to become “the doctor” that at some point we get sick and become “the patient”. The same is true for every other health-care provider who engage too much in working for the sick that they compromise their very own health.
This was my realization when I was brought to the ER one night because of an unbearable headache, sore-throat and fever. It cost me a two-day absence from my most important classes in medical school.
The same thing happened when I was doing my Medical Laboratory Science internship two years ago which cost me 1-week absence from hospital duty — I was in the Phlebotomy department that time (my favorite rotation).
Then it struck me. As health-care givers — future Physicians, our first priority must be our own health. Because we cannot fully help those who need medical care when we ourselves are too sickly. Can you imagine how difficult it is for our patients to trust us and believe what we say when in the first place they see that we do not practice what we preach. We cannot become effective and efficient physicians this way.
I must admit that I am guilty of the same thing. But as I was reading through some of Ellen G. White’s counsels, I was rebuked and reminded on how I should behave regarding this matter.
” The health should be as sacredly guarded as the character.” — HL 10.6
We must guard our health to make it possible to render to God and to humanity perfect service. In the book Healthful Living Ellen G. White mentions, “Our very bodies is not our own to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect service. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him. He is caring for us every moment; He keeps the living machinery in action; if we were left to run it for one moment, we should die. We are absolutely dependent upon God.”
In addition, Mrs. White directly addressed Physicians’ health in the book Medical Ministry (292.1):
“All physicians should place themselves under the control of the Great Physician. Under His guidance they will do as they should do. But the Lord will not work a miracle to save Physicians who recklessly abuse His building.”
“Physicians should not allow their attention to be diverted from their work. Neither should they confine themselves so closely to professional work that health will be injured. In the fear of God they should be wise in the use of the strength that God has given them. Never should they disregard the means that God has provided for the preservation of health. It is their duty to bring under control pf reason every power that God has given them.”
“Of all men the physician should, as far as possible, take regular hours for rest. This will give him power of endurance to bear the taxing burdens of His work. In His busy life the physician will find that the searching of the Scriptures and earnest prayer will give vigor of mind and stability of character.”
At this point, I would like to clarify that health does not only refer to the physical state of the body. Health refers to the total well-being which includes the spiritual, mental, emotional and social aspects.
As much as we take good care of our physical health, we must as well take into consideration the other four aspects of our well-being.
Ellen White wrote a specific chapter in the book Healthful Living which talks about the health of medical workers.
“If they (physicians) do not put to a practical use the knowledge they have of the laws that govern their own being, if they prefer present gratification to soundness of mind and body, they are not fit to be entrusted with the lives of others.” (HL 265.5)
“It is willful sin in them to be ignorant of the laws of health or indifferent to them; for they are looked up to as wise above other men.” (HL 265.5)
We must keep in mind that all our efforts and sacrifices in the process of becoming physicians will all be in vain if, in the long-run, we lose our health in trying to save the health of others.
Prioritizing our own health is not a selfish act. It is a vital part of our commitment to the medical profession and the health-care system.
“Study to shew thyself approved to God.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Here are the links for the books Healthful Living and Medical Ministry. Highly recommended read!