This week I joked with my medical students that we were running an “eternal medicine” service. Surgery is very different than internal medicine and surgeons often feel that internal medicine rounds take an eternity thus the name “eternal medicine.” This is no disrespect to my internal medicine colleagues for whom I am very grateful…I could not manage their patients whose problems tend to be more mentally complicated than my surgical patients, thus the difference in our rounds.
The surgery service peaked this last week at 61 inpatients so at 4 minutes per patient, it would take my medical students and I roughly 4 hours to see everyone. Thus our rounds seemed to take an eternity. It was a good process though because it forced our medical students to present only those signs, symptoms or tests that are important rather than giving the typical drawn-out bedside patient presentation.
Sometimes during eternal rounds and all the business of the day it is easy to forget the real “eternal medicine.” Not endless surgery or internal medicine rounds but the life that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is this life-giving relationship that changed my life. It allows me to wander into the surgical world of pain and suffering and yet have immense joy in sharing surgical principles with my students and compassion to my patients. It also drives us as a surgical service to do and expect high quality work because we report not only to boards and certifying organizations, but also to a living God. It’s also the hope we can offer to someone in death because it truly is eternal in nature.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”