April 16, 2022

When I Extended My Hand to Thank My Doctor, He Began to Cry

Spiritual Care student with a remarkable life story seeks to grow as a health-care leader.

AdventHealth University, and Adventist Review

For Brian Jones, professional development is not always about the next rung on the corporate ladder. It’s sometimes simply about becoming the person he is meant to be.

“I wanted to be a better version of Brian, be a better leader, be a better father and husband,” Jones, regional director of clinical mission integration for AdventHealth, said. He is also a student seeking a master’s degree in spiritual care from AdventHealth University (AHU).

Jones’s role at AdventHealth includes supporting a team of specialists who spiritually nurture team members at outpatient primary and specialty care clinics. Jones and his team also coach employees on how to best administer a screening tool to assess a patient’s spiritual needs as part of whole-person care.

AdventHealth University is a private Seventh-day Adventist university with degree programs in Orlando, Florida, United States. It also has an extension campus in Denver, Colorado, and online. Its smaller environment fosters development of highly skilled individuals who live the healing values of Christ. AdventHealth offers a robust tuition reimbursement program, encouraging employees to grow their careers and find their passions at institutions like AHU.

“I look at this degree as a pathway to learn how to offer spiritual support from an operational perspective. Continuing one’s education is a benefit to anyone willing to learn more about how to become a refined version of themselves,” Jones said.

When the spiritual care degree program opened in early 2021 at AHU, Jones felt called. “It was an answer to prayer. I had long wanted to continue my education. I was looking for something to complement my professional skillsets as well as my passion for our mission.”

In his 25 years with AdventHealth, Jones has served in a variety of roles, including procurement specialist, patient transport manager, and clinical mission integration specialist. “I’ve always followed where God led me, so my career hasn’t been a conventional straight line. Along the way, I kept hearing from leaders that I had a special passion for our mission.”

That could possibly be because his mother was active in mission ministry during her career. Jones is also a lifelong learner. His spiritual journey, however, most likely began as a 10-year-old boy struggling to survive a horrific car accident.

“The hospitalist predicted that I would die or, at best, remain in a constant vegetative state, but God had other plans, so here I am.”

Jones was in the backseat without a seatbelt when the car his mom was driving was hit head on by another car that failed to yield. Jones was rushed to the children’s hospital unconscious, with multiple broken bones, including a depressed skull fracture. The lead doctor told his parents that he did not expect their child to make it through the night.

He proved to be a fighter and gradually improved each day, returning to school after only three months. “When I returned to school, I carried that weight with me — the power that God has to do greater things than we know about.”

His mother, however, had some unfinished business.

After school one day, she picked up her son and told him they were going on an “adventure,” winding up at the children’s hospital. The nurses and techs on the last unit where he was a patient lined the hallway. “They wanted to see how you are doing,” his mom told him, as each one tightly embraced him.

“Everyone seemed happy to see me, except the guy in a white lab coat at the end of the hallway. At last, we were facing each other, and Mom introduced me. ‘This is one of the doctors who took care of you. What would you like to say to him?’ I extended my hand to express my gratitude, but instead of responding, he began to cry. I looked at Mom and noticed that she was crying as well.”

That man was the doctor who predicted Jones would die or be comatose for the rest of his life. His mom, relying on her faith, begged this doctor during hospitalization: “Doctor, what would it take for you to believe that a miracle took place in our son?”

Laughing, he responded, “A miracle,” the doctor replied, “would be if he could walk down this hallway and thank me for taking care of him.” That’s exactly what 10-year-old Jones ended up doing.

The car accident and his recovery are never far from the mind and heart of Jones, the father of four boys, ages 6 to 13 years. “I was someone who was clinically written off as a lost cause and as broken beyond repair. That experience gave me a much wider view of God’s influential healing power and the influence of personal and spiritual hope.”

Jones never strays far from the feeling that God had other plans for him. In his new quest to grow in his role, Jones has taken courses in Old and New Testament, Christian Bioethics, CREATION Life and Spiritual Care through the 72-credit online degree program.

“This program has been such an affirming walk of faith,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on the AdventHealth University news site.