October 8, 2014 at 6:50 AM | Posted in Medicine | Leave a comment
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I had a quick revelation a couple of weeks ago which illustrates what goes on in my head. I pictured many hummingbirds flying through my head this way and that. It perfectly illustrates what is going on in my mind throughout the day, the often frenetic pace at which thoughts are flying through. In quickly, out quickly. But only to be replaced by another and another and another hummingbird zipping in one side out the other.

This is particularly true at work when I am really busy. There is so much going on in my mind – hundreds of decisions during a shift. This frenetic activity is compounded by the steady stream of interruptions from every which direction – the nurses, the patients, the techs, the phone calls, the scribes, the family members. With each interruption, there is a hummingbird gunning for the exit. I grab on to it before it escapes. Sometimes I grab on to two or three at a time, each one tenuously squeezed between fingers. Securing one or more fluttering bird in one hand, I turn to the one that is in the other hand. Once this one has been taken care of, I let go of it. I then turn to those other fluttering birds, take care of them before I can let them go.

Yup, my mind’s an alcove of lively hummingbirds zipping through in all directions. No wonder I miss things.

Applied Fruit

September 25, 2014 at 3:17 PM | Posted in Education, Faith Life, Medicine | Leave a comment

Fruit Sculpture


Recently, I received a letter from our hospital CEO with these words,

“I congratulate you on being identified as a physician with high impact and high patient experience scores. In addition, I commend you on your significant achievement as rating higher than the national average in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid database.”

Such complimentary and heartwarming praises are rare for most of us ER physicians. Our physician-patient “relationships” are – for the vast majority of encounters –  singular events. This fact, combined with the above normal level of anxiety and stress most of our patients are under, makes ER docs anonymous to them.

So, of course, I metaphorically patted myself on the back. It’s a welcome merit badge because In the past few years, there has been such an emphasis by hospital administrators on “patient satisfaction.” But, what about God’s satisfaction? What is the Lord’s “rating” of me? Sadly, the truth is, I have fallen quite short of God’s nature which is embodied in the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23. We all have.

This verse is one of the most quoted from the Bible. It tells us about the “fruit of the Spirit,” a combination of 9 distinct Christ-like qualities which all Christians ought to emulate. When our patients and our staff see these qualities in us,  even though they may not realize it, they are seeing the Lord Jesus. Do I exhibit them in my daily interactions at work? How do I express each of these qualities?

1. LOVE – unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

I demonstrate love when I keep the patient’s best interest at the forefront of any decision-making.  As we know, the practice of medicine is an “art” which is manifested through the decision-making process and through our judgment. Loving our patients means to make decisions (to the best of our ability) based on what is best for the patient.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13 NIV



Continue Reading Applied Fruit…

Good Fruit

September 2, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Posted in CMDA Weekly Devotions, Faith Life, Medicine | Leave a comment


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV 2011).

“I didn’t say that!” I whined at my lawyer. “I didn’t question ‘why did she come to the ER'; nor did I ‘belittle her knowledge of her own illness.’” A medical board complaint had been lodged against me and the physician assistant. The patient’s written complaint detailed her brief visit with us in the ER before she was transferred to another unit. The patient had characterized my demeanor and words in an unexpectedly negative way. In my memory, the ER encounter had been so unremarkable and routine for me that I was shocked when I received the notice.

I have often asked myself if I am exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in my daily work as a physician. Do my patients see Jesus when they look at me? Certainly not always, as this patient pointed out.

Patient relationship experts advise a smile and a handshake, with the doctor taking a seat, when visiting with the patient. We should all implement these “tricks-of-the trade” to help in our communication and increase the ubiquitous patient satisfaction scores. Yet, these tricks are only the shadow of the “real” thing—a caring physician—a Christ-like physician. If by my behavior I am showing the Spirit’s fruit, then I am showing them Jesus. This is a heavy reality and responsibility. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that we are “ambassadors of Christ” in the middle of disagreements with patients and their families, especially in stressful environments like the emergency room. But, even with routine encounters, we can sometimes come across un-Christ-like. I am easily tempted to react and defend myself when treated unfairly, just like anyone else. Yet, my spirit reminds me: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Some days I succeed at showing Jesus to my patients and staff. Oh, but how I have failed so miserably some other days. I love what Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, wrote in a recent e-devotional:

”But the fruit in my life is His concern, not mine. My concern is to make sure of three things:

1. That, as a potential fruit-bearing branch, I am connected to the Vine and keep that connection clean and unobstructed
2. That I submit to the cultivation of the Vinedresser, which primarily involves His pruning in my life
3. That I communicate with Him my heart’s desire.”

Such wisdom. Once again, I am reminded that it’s all about Jesus. It isn’t about me. He has a cosmic plan and, although I am an integral part, I am not an independent cog in the wheel of His divine design. Ultimately, it isn’t about how “I” – the big “me” – am exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, as if I am getting credit towards graduation into heaven. Our primary focus should be our relationship with Jesus, our Lord: to remain “connected to the Vine” and to “submit to the cultivation of the Vinedresser, which primarily involves His pruning.” Ouch! Pruning hurts. But great fruit can be had in no other way. Even if it requires a medical board complaint.


Dear Father,
Please let the fruit of your spirit live through me.

It’s A Calling, Stupid

August 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


God’s Work and Ours: An Interview with Timothy Keller

People are looking for the more fulfilling thing.

People say, “I’d like a job that’s just a little more exciting to me, and better paying.”

If you produce something that makes people’s lives better, even if it’s a rather boring process to do it, you’re doing God’s work, you are caring for God’s creation.

Why does it have to be, why does the process have to be incredibly fulfilling when you know you are doing something that helps people?

We’ve lost the idea of [a] calling, we are looking now at work as a way of fulfillment.

Why Do I Write?

July 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Posted in Writing | Leave a comment


I started my Doctoring, Mothering and Faith blog in November 2012 having developed a compulsion to write. It’s been a very satisfying intellectual, emotional and spiritual outlet. This post by David Mathis on states quite well the reasons many “journal” or write, and articulates its many benefits.

Journal As a Pathway to Joy

July 30, 2014 by David Mathis

“Journaling is a way of slowing life down for just a few moments, and trying to process at least a sliver of it for the glory of God, our own growth and development, and our enjoyment of the details.”

“A deep joy and satisfaction can come from getting our complicated and confusing thoughts and feelings into words on the page. Our heads and hearts carry around so many unfinished thoughts and emotions we’re only able to finish as we write them down. As praise is not just the expression of joy, but the consummation of it, so is writing to the soul. Writing doesn’t merely capture what’s already inside us, but in the very act of writing, we enable our heads and hearts to take the next step, then two, then ten. It has a crystalizing effect. Good writing is not just the expression of what we’re already experiencing, but the deepening of it.

Native Noises: How To Sound Like a Native Mandarin Speaker

July 29, 2014 at 6:59 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


OMG, this is the BEST! They are just too cute.

Originally posted on MandarinMadeEZ:

Use these characters in a conversation and you will sound 100% more local.

[English Subs coming this weekend 28/29 June 2014)

In this lesson we look at 10 exclamative particles in Mandarin Chinese, (Wiki)

These are the noises people make to show surprise, laughter, or pain etc.  Examples in English would be things like;

hahaha, oi, huh, um, what! etc.

Different regions will use some more than others, but here are some common ones used in Taiwan.  Listen to people around you and see which ones they use.  After a while, these sounds will become natural to you, and you will say them without thinking as your Chinese level improves.

Downloadable Podcast:

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Write, Write, Write.

July 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Writing | 2 Comments


“Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.”
C.S. Lewis

High Traffic Blogging Topics

July 28, 2014 at 2:52 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Great tips by an expert blogger.

Originally posted on The Journal:

HNTSO top title 2high traff wop 3

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Sick Patient, Happy ER Doc

July 27, 2014 at 9:02 PM | Posted in Education, Medicine, work | Leave a comment



I’ve noticed that my job satisfaction goes way, way up on days when I am running around taking care of real sick patients. By “real” I don’t just mean magnitude, but also authenticity. These are legitimately ill patients who require my expertise in Emergency Care. These patients are who I was trained to care for. Crisis interventionalist – that’s what I am. I am not happy nor do I feel fulfilled when dealing with drug seekers, or with whining, manipulative and deceptive patients. I find that the elderly are “real” patients for the most part and typically do not have a secondary or hidden agenda.

For instance, there was one day during a span of 9 hours, Continue Reading Sick Patient, Happy ER Doc…

So, A Roach Walks Into a Local ED…

July 26, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Posted in Medicine, work | Leave a comment



“She thinks there’s a cockroach in her ear,” I hear the triage nurse announce over the annoying portable device we all wear. It’s 4AM.

“Hmm.” I immediately think back to the one other episode indelibly etched in my mind of the 5 year old with a roach in his ear. It’s always an interesting story to recount to any listener. Something about removing a roach from a person’s ear gets people’s attention.

That morning, I had just come on shift at 6AM. My first patient was a 5 year old boy brought in by mom with the complaint of an earache. “Probably otitis” runs immediately through my mind; it’s a child, it’s an earache, it’s an off-hour ED visit. Continue Reading So, A Roach Walks Into a Local ED……

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