Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative



Faith plays a significant role in many patients’ lives. Learning more about their beliefs can help us to understand them better and allows us to serve our patients in line with their values. 

Ms. A’s soft brown eyes glanced up at me as I entered the room. She maintained eye contact and offered a warm smile. I introduced myself as part of the palliative medicine team and sat down next to her on the hospital bed. I was about to tell her that she had end stage cancer and she likely had only a few months left. 


She held my hand and I felt her warm and soft skin against mine. I felt the wisdom in the wrinkles of her hands. I listened as she told me about her reliance on God and her belief in something bigger than herself.  


I finally told her about the diagnosis and she didn’t hesitate when she said, “I’m ready whenever God takes me.” She didn’t cry and instead smiled. “I’m ready to go home when He calls me.” 


Her confidence and poise told me she lived a full life and had prepared for this moment. I learned about grace from my patient that day and it made me even more certain of my commitment to medicine. Here’s what I learned: 


1. Our patients teach us so much about ourselves and life. We just have to listen. 


2. Many times we’re required to have very heavy conversations with our patients without having much time to get to know them.

There are still ways we can build rapport, like sitting instead of standing, and simply showing them respect. 


3. Faith plays a significant role in many peoples’ lives.

Learning more about the role of faith in our patients’ lives can help us understand them and ultimately serve them better as well. 





This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.