Health care professionals witness more than their fair share of heartbreak. Caregivers in all areas of medicine see people at their worst — in pain, grief, fear. Sometimes, it’s the worst pain, the strongest grief and the darkest fear a person ever experienced. The cumulative toll this can take on a person is enough to prompt one to wonder, “Why do it?”
At a time when many are walking away from the health care profession, this is a question that demands a worthy answer. And many of our longest-serving staff at CMC provide it. They describe their work as a calling. They feel compelled to work in a field where they can help others. You likely are familiar with CMC’s mission statement: The heart of Catholic Medical Center is to carry out Christ’s healing mission of offering health, healing and hope to every individual who seeks our care.
In my decade at CMC, I have met countless employees who take our mission to heart. This includes those who work in direct patient care – doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians and many others. It also includes those who are not in a clinical role but work in food and nutritional services, security, environmental services, finance, human resources and nearly every other department in the hospital. Not everyone feels a call to heal, but nearly everyone sees how they can make a difference for the patient. Recently, one of CMC’s billing supervisors was interviewed for an article on our recruitment efforts. Ashley Emery said, “I’m motivated by being able to make a difference in a patient’s or co-worker’s day. I do this by seeing questions through until the end and doing everything with integrity and respect.”
For all the difficult moments of working in health care, there are many, many more instances where we are reminded why we do the work we do. It happens when new parents walk out of the hospital with the baby they so long prayed for in their arms. It happens when someone who recovered from a serious illness celebrates another birthday. It happens when patients and their families send us messages of thanks. One recent note simply said, “Thank you for keeping me alive.”
Choosing a career or a job change can be described as a soul-searching experience. One considers not only their own talent and skill, but also the satisfaction they’ll get out of the work they do. What could be more satisfying than leaving such a lasting mark on someone’s life? Saving them, helping them live with less pain, or seeing them through a medical struggle?
Christ healed the sick through the power of God. What an honor it is to be able to heal through the tools, education and resources we have. It is hard to think of a more noble profession.
Alex Walker is president and CEO of CMC Healthcare System: Catholic Medical Center, New England Heart & Vascular Institute, and several subsidiaries. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Manchester.