Redesigning the practice of medicine

Pamela Mitchell

what if we went slowly thoughtfullyabout the business of healing
what if I bowedto you and you to mebefore we touched aching bodies
what if we saidout loudthisis sacred workmight I be madeworthy
what if I blessed your handsand you minebefore we began
repairingdeliveringdressinglistening to
broken bodieshungry souls

would we then returnto the placewhere so long agowe felt called
where we knew for sure thatwe did indeedhave hearts
hearts that beat confidentlyfullof ambition
hearts that were courageousenough to break
againand againand again
hearts that were not afraidto weep

at the sheer beauty offulminating organ
the raw painof splintered fracture
the howling lossof bodily movement

what if we were unafraid to weepat the joyof newborns crowning
or the resurrectionof hearts expired

what if we were unafraidto sayI do not know the answer
and welcomed Humilityinto our practice
what if we sat down with Hersaid a blessing
and quietly contemplated
the Mystery

About the poet:

A nurse for thirty years, Pam Mitchell RN MFA currently enjoys nursing in mental health. She was anthologized in Intensive Care (Cortney Davis and Judy Schaefer, eds, University of Iowa Press, 2003) and has been published in other literary venues.

About the poem:

“Redesigning the Practice of Medicine was born in a moment of deep grief and frustration. I was reflecting upon the many years I’d spent in my profession and longing for the days when I’d had more time with patients. I remembered a sense of collegiality and a more humane approach to providing care. Those were rare and cherished times that I continue to long for and seek out. In writing this poem, I began to realize a great deal about the privilege granted by being a nurse. When I realized how many bodies I had held, rocked, covered and touched, I began to shudder with a sense of sheer awe.”

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