As I was reflecting on the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – on this day set aside in his honor – I was struck by how his words were as powerful as his deeds. If you are too young to remember Dr. King or the civil rights movement, we are fortunate to have access to many of the great speeches, teachings and writings from this extraordinary human being. One of my favorite Dr. King quotes is this one: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you going to do for others?” It is a personal favorite because it is not only relative in my personal life, but it cuts across my professional life – and yours – as well.
As caregivers, we often encounter people at their most dire moments. It may be a physical condition that needs our immediate attention, or it could center on their dependence on our expertise for guidance on the right course of action for their loved ones, or maybe they just need our reassurance that everything will be alright, a shoulder to lean on.
In every transaction we have with our patients and their loved ones, there is a sense of urgency. In those moments we are addressing Dr. King’s question. “What are you going to do for others?” The threshold for caregivers is higher than most. We are expected to provide the needed medical service and at the highest quality-level possible to improve the health and well-being of our patients. It is in the manner of care and empathy with which we provide those services that we fully answer Dr. King’s question. There are no small interactions with our patients. There is urgency.
I encourage each of you to reflect on two things today. Primarily the unbelievable work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and secondly on the positive impact you make in the lives of our patients and their loved ones on a daily basis.
Thanks for all your great ideas and for taking great care of our patients and one another,