I’m an assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. My research focuses on how to improve patient care through more effective interprofessional communication, coordination, and role definitions.
The way I got here was a bit roundabout, though. Since I was very young, I wanted to be a physician. To me, the highest satisfaction was knowing I had healed someone and helped them in their moment of greatest need. As soon as I was old enough, I started volunteering at a hospital. I chose pre-medicine as my undergrad major, doubling in business economics, because I wanted to open a free clinic in the inner city. I went abroad to the rural parts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica to help provide basic medical care. And because of my love for science and my insatiable desire to know more about the intricacies of the human body, I worked as a researcher in a prostate cancer lab. Then, reality hit. I applied to about a dozen medical schools, and I waited in anticipation, thinking this was God’s calling on my life. But I didn’t get accepted.
Crushed. That pretty much sums up how I felt. But after a period of experiencing the pain of loss, I finally saw a path through. Christ gave up so much to ensure that my life wasn’t a waste. So not getting into medical school didn’t mean I was a failure; rather, it meant God wanted to use me in another way—a way more suited to who He created me to be.
My love for health care never left me, and God still satisfied this part of me, but in a way beyond what I could’ve ever planned. He knew my gifts better than I did and how they would best serve others. As I learned to disentangle my identity from my work—an ongoing process— I opened space for Christ to show me what I was missing. God became very real to my work in three main ways.
1. The Thirst for Truth
God wants us to seek truth—not only in knowing Him but also in understanding the world through Him. From ethnographic methods to analyzing medical record data, I’m equipped with tools to examine the world around me. However, even though scientific methods are valuable, they don’t give us the total answer. Faith makes sense of things we humans could never grasp without it. Knowing that we live for an omniscient God with a meticulous intentionality behind creation gives me the ability to pursue knowledge with humility and a holistic perspective.
2. The Practical Means to Serve
The way to show compassion and serve others through my work isn’t always palpable. But in my research, one of the best ways to do this is to examine the entire problem from as many angles as possible, and in doing so, serve those who don’t have the time, energy, or resources to reveal truth and act upon it. Christ’s model exemplifies this to the core, in that He first sought to serve those who had the weakest voice. In the health care setting, sometimes it seems that the system is built against clinicians and patients. In my efforts to problem-solve in this system, I can show compassion by understanding the needs of different stakeholders—seeking the input of the ones who are most discounted or even ignored—and I can demonstrate service by addressing their needs in the path toward a solution.
3. The Power to Bring Peace
Bringing God’s peace to my work means looking for opportunities for reconciliation. Whether it’s resolving role-conflict among clinicians by formulating a more objective system for accountability, or bringing the patient’s needs to the forefront when they are overshadowed by hospital culture—peace is enacted through seeking reconciliation and resolution. As a Christian, I look forward to a perfect reconciliation of all things with the “new heavens and new earth” that Jesus promises. The power of Christ is in and upon anyone who receives Him, so that we can bring peace wherever we go. I rest in that power, especially when work challenges arise.
I may only make a dent in helping to improve patient care. However, I do know that if I press into Jesus Christ through my efforts—if I seek His kingdom first—I can’t lose, and my work isn’t in vain because all will be made perfect one day. And God is incredibly gracious to show glimpses of that promise through our work.