Doctors and healthcare workers are currently on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. In a 2019 interview, Penny Thron-Weber explains how her Quaker faith allows her to better connect with her patients.
When asked how coronavirus is affecting her today, Penny replied:
“For some reason the universe keeps asking me to learn more about holding diametrically opposed perspectives at the same time. With Covid 19 the challenge is to acknowledge the risk of this virus and take appropriate precautions both in my home and medical life, while at the same time feeling acutely and trying to respond to the very human need for connection whether it be my patients or my community. What risks do I take in order to express my deep caring? What precautions do I take in order to keep myself and those I care about alive and well?
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I’ve always felt that God is present in everything, and in all our relationships – all of our hard things and our easy things and our good things about our bad things. Some days I feel like I’ve really.. am doing that heart connection and some days, not so much, but it continues to be where I’m drawn.
How Quakerism Influences My Medical Practice
My name is Penny Thron-Weber. I live in Denver, Colorado, and my meeting is Mountain View Friends Meeting.
Being a doctor has been my goal and intention since I was a pretty little girl, and I’m not really sure that I could say why at that time but it’s been always very important for me to be serving people who come to me for care. To be listening well to them and, I guess in essence, finding that of God in them both just because if you can honor somebody that way you can take better care of them but also because sometimes it truly is, like, a diagnostic opportunity to hear and be present with somebody. So, that’s been the crux of my practice — is the relationship with other human beings.
It’s been really important for me to take care of people from all walks of life, all types of people, and I have done that because I started my career working at Denver Health and Hospitals with mostly indigent patients, and I learned to speak Spanish in that setting, and I felt very pleased when my Spanish improved to the point where I could actually understand what people were truly trying to say to me — not just sort of the translated version, but the sense of what mattered for them. I think that’s pretty…. Um, that comes somehow from the same root as my Quakerism does.
Service as a Quaker Practice
I think service is a part of Quakerism, perhaps, from that initial George Fox– which I can never quote anything right, but, “walking cheerfully over the Earth, answering that of God in every person,” and that to me speaks of… You know, you answer that of God, that is a form of service. That plus the sense that everybody has that of God in them, therefore everybody needs to have an equal access to the gifts and opportunities that the world has to offer. Yeah, that sense of connecting with and giving to other people seems like it’s part of what we’re called to do.
- As a doctor, it’s important to find humanity in your patients. How can workers in other fields seek that of God in their customers, coworkers, employees, and communities?
- As coronavirus continues to affect people from “all walks of life,” how can we help those most at risk?
- Penny mentions how pleased she was to, “actually understand what people were truly trying to say… not just sort of the translated version, but the sense of what mattered for them.” How can we use our faith to truly listen to others?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.