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‘A Ministry of Medicine’
Graduating U.Va. Medical Student Brings His Relationship With God Into Everything, Including His Career

May 7, 2004 -- For Joe Jackson, medicine is a calling.

“God has 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. at the University of Virginia 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 and 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.

“I learned 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, and 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 Church of Charlottesville. He’s 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.”

“Every 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 how tired or busy he was.

“At 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.”

The Medical School recently recognized this compassion by awarding him its annual Humanism in Medicine Award.

“This 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.

“I 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 at Duke University.

“Through the grace of God, I’m where I am now,” he said.
No doubt Dr. Jackson will share this grace with his patients.

Contact: Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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