Humility in Healthcare

It is refreshing to interact with individuals exhibiting humility. People we admire, follow, learn from; and traits we desire for ourselves. Healthcare professionals should provide a great example since they do Jesus’ work.

Healthcare has roots in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ – whose birthday many celebrate this month. It is a belief that every person is a treasure, every life a sacred gift, and every human being a unity of body, mind and spirit. Healthcare professionals should view every patient as the face of Christ based on His healing of others.

To do so on a daily basis requires much humility. While nobody is perfect, most seek to practice humility because we know it is the right thing to do, it exemplifies great leadership, and it is how we want to be treated.

A quote on humility states, “Conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than the giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find mercy in the sight of God.”

Always act with humility. If we do this, we will be loved more than the “giver of gifts.” By acting with humility, others will respect, follow, learn, and want to be around us. This should describe the people you prefer to work with and for; and those we want to care for us.

Paul J. Wadell, professor of theology and religious studies at St. Norbert College, provided some ways humility contributes to excellence in healthcare. First, without humility, all healthcare professionals – including administrators and non-clinicians – would not be aligned with healthcare’s central focus; providing compassionate care for others.

Second, humility enables us to love. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors; and in healthcare this means loving each patient as if our neighbor. While not always easy to love, it is what healthcare professionals are called to do – toward patients, co-workers, community, family, etc.

A third way humility contributes to excellence in healthcare is the recognition that nobody – no matter how educated or what title one has – either knows or can do everything. We must listen to and learn from others, be open to feedback, and be ready to admit others’ ideas may be better than our own. This is humility.

Wadell goes on to say, “without humility, we can be overly confident in our abilities and in our assessment of particular cases, barging ahead without taking time to discern with others what needs to be done.” Well said.

The Good Samaritan story is a reminder of how each of us should act toward each other, and a model for healthcare professionals’ interaction with others. Staying calm. Listening. Engaging in conversation. Answering questions. Being entirely present. Displaying empathy and compassion.

This describes individuals we want to work with and for, and care for us when needing healthcare. As you celebrate this holiday season, invest time to “conduct your affairs with humility… Humble yourself… and… find mercy.”

About the author.

David Yeghiaian is the interim vice president of strategy at Holy Family Memorial. Reach him at

Learn more about HFM Primary Care here.