Reflections on a Rewarding Profession

Hospice work is different from all other aspects of medicine. Your patients and their families need your absolute best; you really do have to bring your “A” game. Families and patients are probably at the most difficult time in their lives.

This work draws on every bit of your knowledge and experience, both medically and psychologically. I feel as though I was in preparation for my work with hospice for many years prior to being chosen for the job.

In this role, I have gained an appreciation for what hospice team members do. I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand their involvement with passion. The generosity of the hospice worker is not measured in the usual ways; they give freely of their time, love and energy. The compassion our staff has for those who are sick and dying is just incredible. They find the strengths to nurture our patients’ spirits, to listen, to care. They alleviate the anxiety, the pain and the loneliness that can be associated with the dying process as they escort the dying person through their transition to the next life.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have the honor of caring for individuals as they prepare to cross that threshold witness events that are extremely hard to understand or to explain. It is amazing what they describe, who they say they see and the experiences they share with us. The various descriptions are pretty much universal from patient to patient. They describe a beautiful light, well-dressed people and those who they have known and have died before them.

I’ll never forget my best personal experience. During my rounds, I had a patient ask me: “How do you manage to do that?” Of course, I had no idea of what he was talking about and asked what he meant. Looking at me with his clear blue eyes and a perfectly straight face, he said, “How do you manage to keep that light around your body like that?”

Hospice work is not for everyone. It is truly a spiritual experience. My mentor told me, “If a person has no spiritual beliefs when they start this work, they will have them before they finish this work.”

My career is winding down and I will be retiring this summer. More than 40 years ago, I would never have guessed I would be doing this kind of work. The last six years have been some of the most rewarding of my life. I am thankful for the opportunity to have been of service to my patients here and in every other capacity of my medical practice. I will leave knowing that I have always placed my patients’ best interests
over my own. I have always treated them the same way that I would want to be treated.

To the thousands of patients whose lives I have touched throughout my career: Thank you for the privilege of caring for each of you.

John W. Middleton, M.D., is the medical director of BridgingLife.

From the spring 2022 issue of DASH, BridgingLife’s community newsletter 

7 thoughts to “Reflections on a Rewarding Profession”

  1. This is beautiful! I’ve been blessed to work with Dr. Middleton several times in my career. He is one of the best, most caring providers I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
    Happy retirement John!

  2. Happy Retirement Dr.Middleton. I first met you at Long View where I worked and was impressed with your thoughts and ideas. Then my father was in hospice in October and it was a joy talking to you. You took my mother under your wing and explained the process to her. You were wonderful. Again, enjoy your retirement.

  3. Your retirement is well deserved John. Time to enjoy your family and your garden. Thank you for all you did for our family when we lived up there.
    Mark, Disa and family!

  4. God bless you. Thank you. May you be wrapped in happiness and joy during your much deserved retirement years. May you continue to be a witness and mentor. Love you brother,

    Bob Hatfield

  5. Dr. Middleton you are a tremendous credit to your profession. Everyone lucky enough to have been your patient has been blessed. We were among those blessed for many years as were our children. Since we left MD we have not been able to find a physician even close to you. You are compassionate, caring, thorough, and a friend. You always took the time to listen and truly care.
    I pray that when my time comes to leave this world I have someone as caring as you to assist me in my journey.
    Thank you for all your years of caring for others and for being the person you are. You certainly deserve the time now to take care of yourself and your family and to enjoy life!
    Happy retirement. God Bless You!
    Maybe we’ll see you in Bethany sometime.
    The Zerner family
    Kevin,Debbie,Kevin,Stacey and Kyle

  6. Dr. John Wayne Middleton is my brother and one that I am so extremely proud and honored to be his sister. Congratulations on a career on such a fulfilling experience and a truly loved profession. Your many patients and co-workers in the field will surely miss you and all that you did. Enjoy your next phase of your life. Do the things that make a difference to you and your family now. God Bless and Keep you always.
    Love Dorothy and Dale

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