Trying to witness

It’s hard to fully describe what it is like being a young black male in a quasi-doctor role. At my home program in LLU it means that I am one of the few black people in white coats. This means that I am often mistaken for a radiology tech or a janitor, regardless of what I am wearing because in the minds if many I am not supposed to be a doctor.  Here in the inner city at AMC the patient population is much poorer and blacker. Because of that fact I have been able to interact with a lot of black teens and young adults. Personally I have always struggled with when the appropriate time was to witness to patients in the hospital. I have so much to say, but often I feel constrained, not wanting to give them too much at one time. Its so funny I have no problem asking a patient if they pooped that morning but its somehow “more awkward”  when I attempt to tell them about God.

Just yesterday I had an opportunity to witness/be a role model to a 17 yo black male that showed up on our orthopaedics floor. I guess on Saturday he got into a fist fight with some dude somewhere on the streets. The friend of the person he was fighting realized that it wasn’t going well for his friend so he shot my patient in the thigh, shattering his femur. When I came into his room to see him that morning I asked the general questions needed to fill out a progress note, but I also felt compelled to ask him about the incident and ask how he could have avoided it. The next morning when I walked into the room there was a lady sleeping in the hospital bed with him. I was there to redress his wounds and clean out the entrance and exit holes from the bullet. While there I learned that the girl sleeping beside him was his girlfriend who was pregnant with their first kid. That opened up a door for me to talk to them about my soon to come kid. I went  on to tell her about how my wife was born to a 14 yo mom who didn’t want her daughter to follow in her footsteps. So she put my wife in a church school which required her mom to work very hard to pay for it, meaning that she wasn’t able to enjoy her teens and 20s like her other friends. But that sacrifice resulted in my wife getting baptized, meeting her future husband, being the first in her family to go to college, and to go to medical school. I encouraged my patient and his girlfriend that if they take their God given responsibility in raising their kid seriously then the sky is the limit. I also used the convo to encourage my patient to not seek revenge when he gets out, lest he gets shot again, possibly in such a way that he wouldn’t see his son grow up.

Overall I think that my words hit home because I’m a young black guy too and unfortunately for a lot of black patients that matters. Either way  we should all use whatever skills or advantages God has given us to further his gospel.

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