Starting on January 19, 2015 our University of Iowa and the Iowa City communities will launch the Martin Luther King Jr. Day observation. This year, jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon will be the featured speaker delivering the DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on January 20, 2015 from noon to one PM in the Prem Sahai Auditorium, 1110 Medical Education & Research Facility (MERF) on the University of Iowa campus.
At first I wondered about the connection between the jazz trombonist and MLK Day. And then I found it on Gordon’s website: “In 2006, Wycliffe Gordon was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania), and cited as a champion of our music – a music that models the ideals of democracy through its performance demands for positive and productive interaction, honest communication, and commonality of soul; a music that celebrates triumph of the human spirit over adversity.”
As the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, I wonder: What’s the best way for the average person to contribute to lifting this nation to a higher destiny? What’s my role and how do I respond to that call?
I find myself reflecting more about my role as a teacher to our residents and medical students. I wonder every day how I can improve as a role model and, at the same time, let trainees practice both what I preach and listen to their own inner calling. After all, they are the next generation of doctors.
But for now they are under my tutelage. What do I hope for them?
I hope medicine doesn’t destroy itself with empty and dishonest calls for “competence” and “quality,” when excellence is called for.
I hope that when they are on call, they’ll mindfully acknowledge their fatigue and frustration…and sit down when they go and listen to the patient.
I hope they listen inwardly as well, and learn to know difference between a call for action, and a cautionary whisper to wait and see.
I hope they won’t be paralyzed by doubt when their patients are not able to speak for themselves, and that they’ll call the families who have a stake in whatever doctors do for their loved ones.
And most of all I hope leaders in medicine and psychiatry remember that we chose medicine because we thought it was a calling. Let’s try to keep it that way.
You know, I’m on call at the hospital today and I tried to give my trainees the day off. They came in anyway.