Monday, June 20, 2011

Vita Institute

I am learning a lot at the University of Notre Dame's Vita Institute, hosted by the Center for Ethics and Culture. Three experiences stand out right now (after the first week):
  1. Touring the Women's Care Center. I want to start one at at home!
  2. Touring Hannah's House. I have dreamed for years (six? ten?) of owning or operating a maternity home.
  3. Listening to social science lectures. Suddenly I feel that I can write a bunch of letters (polite, effective ones) and squeeze a shim of truth into the world's well-built bias.
The biology lectures were also very interesting, but they did not awake any new drives. They did give me a little encouragement, confirming my thoughts about what I want to do (which is nice, because I've been feeling pretty demotivated over the past eight months).

Also, I received some great advice from one of my fellow participants, a newly-retired OB/GYN, who delivered over four thousand babies in about 30 of his 41 years of practice. He delivered babies for women he'd delivered. He got three hundred letters from patients when he announced his retirement.

When he learned that I had thought about OB/GYN, he asked me "why OB?" I told him that I hadn't really made the decision yet, but he had; really, he should be telling me "why OB."

So he told me a little about OB/GYN.
  • It has the worst hours of any specialty.
  • It involves physical and emotional stress.
  • It includes some surgery, which is fun (that was his word, I am not adding anything!)
  • An OB/GYN can build relationships with women and families and husbands; you're able to do a lot for people at important times in their lives--both happy and sorrowful.
  • Dealing with family practice problems (e.g. Syndrome X) is tedious. There is no solution and no healing.
  • An OB/GYN deals with basically healthy patients.
And he gave me some advice.
  • The first thing you should do when you walk into a patient's room is sit down. This says "I have time for you" and "I care about you." Even if you spend no more time in the room than you would have if you stood at their bed the entire time, sitting down says something. It also puts you at eye level, and this allows the patient to feel more comfortable, take their time, talk with you, and remember their questions.
  • You aren't expected to know everything. You can say "I don't know the answer, but I know someone who does" or "but I know where to find it and I will find it and I will call you." Then find it, and call them. Often, they are more impressed with your found answers than those you knew. Note: you can't just shrug and say "I don't know!"
  • It's hard. But just because it's hard, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.
He encouraged me. And talking to him (once last week, and once today) really made me excited again. As I mentioned above, I was a little deflated about being a pro-life OB/GYN.

The Vita Institute has been a shot in the arm, for the pro-life fight and for my long-time dreams.

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