A Piece of My Mind
March 2, 2011

Shall We Pray?

JAMA. 2011;305(9):865-866. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.205

“Shall we pray?” asked my father, the small-town Michigan physician, as we knelt next to Betty, his dying patient, in her living room. My hands began to perspire immediately. Sympathetic response, fight or flight, I thought instinctively, seriously considering the latter option. Having seen my dad shamelessly discuss his Christian faith with even near-strangers during my childhood—and not always with the most gracious responses—I nearly exclaimed aloud, “Oh no, not again!” As a fourth-year medical student, I had come home to Michigan for a 2-week elective in my father's office for the purpose of learning about rural primary care, not for a religious crusade. Influenced by my politically correct education, I felt embarrassed and worried that Betty or her husband, John, might react negatively to my father stepping out of what I perceived as his role as a physician.

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