A ministry of medicine
Photo by Tom Cogill
practicing medicine or playing the piano, the soon-to-be
physician — Joseph Jackson Jr. — brings
God into everything he does.
By Fariss Samarrai
For Joe Jackson, medicine is a calling.
directed me in my activities,” he said.
Since he was a kid, he knew he would be a doctor. On May 16, he will earn
his M.D. and enter his “ministry of medicine.”
“I’ve learned through a process, through my relationship with God, that
my life has a purpose,” he said.
That purpose is to practice medicine with compassion. Jackson aims to
treat the whole person: medically, emotionally, spiritually.
There were times, however, when medical school seemed disconnected
from the patient, when the emphasis was on textbooks and competencies
medical problems, and
not on the patient as a human being.
But his interactions with his patients always reminded him of why
he went into medicine.
that I can apply my passions for science and people to meeting the needs
of my patients,” he said.
Jackson has chosen to become a pediatrician. He loves children
and has worked as an actor at a theme park, as a substitute
teacher, a Big Sibling,
with children through the youth ministry at his church.
Jackson has been involved with both his church in Pennsylvania
and his current church, Transformation Ministries First Baptist
spent eight years in Charlottesville, first as an undergraduate chemistry major,
and then as a medical student.
“I bring my relationship with God into everything I do,” he said.
Working with children, and the parents who love them, is
an “awesome challenge
and responsibility,” he said. “I know I will be fulfilling my purpose.”
patient is unique,” he said. “I make sure to know each of my
patients by name.”
During his third- and fourth-year clinical rotations,
he made a point of knowing his patients, no matter
the end of a shift, I always seek out one patient to
visit, just to say I’m
here and I care,” Jackson said. “Patients can count on me to be involved.
I let them know I’m willing to talk and willing to listen.”
School recently recognized this compassion
by awarding him its annual Humanism in Medicine Award.
is an honor and a privilege,” he said. “It acknowledges that
caring about the patient as a person is as important as the other competencies.”
One of Jackson’s goals is to open a medical clinic in Jamaica, the home
of his parents. Part of his calling, he said, is “to meet the needs of
people in impoverished nations.” This spring he received a scholarship
to study and provide health care in Jamaica for a month. There he found that
the tools of technology taken for granted in the United States are not routinely
available to the impoverished.
learned to make a diagnosis of pneumonia without the
benefit of chest X-rays,” he
said. “In the absence of technology, interaction with the patient is vital.”
In June, Jackson moves to Durham, N.C., to
begin a three-year residency in pediatrics
the grace of God, I’m where I am now,” he said.
No doubt Dr. Jackson will share this grace with his