2020-2021 Precious Blood Volunteer, Allison Spraul

by Allison Spraul, Precious Blood Volunteer

I’ve known I have a call to become a physician for many years, and while the basic underlying facts that drive this calling have not changed—my love of biology and science, call to help and accompany others, and desire to build community—my understanding of what that role can look  like has evolved, especially over this last year of service with Precious Blood Volunteers at KC CARE Health Center. I’ve been reflecting on leadership.

Doctors are leaders of healthcare teams, often leaders within clinics or hospitals, and can become leaders in their wider community outside of the healthcare system, a role emphasized by the pandemic of the past year. But leadership styles are as individualized as each person who is called upon to fill the role, and I have been thinking about what kind of leader I will become, influenced by my experiences with health care and formation in faith of the past year. I have been comparing the leadership qualities of Jesus Christ shown throughout the Gospels, and examples I have seen over the past eight months the healthcare providers I work with day in and day out. There are many qualities I have seen in these role models that I hope to incorporate as I grow into my own.

Image of the mission statement of KC CARE Health ClinicI want to be a leader whose actions and words align. To me, it speaks of authenticity and of true commitment, and it is easier to ask others to follow when you practice what you preach. I have seen providers I work with be vaccinated and share their personal experiences with patients, and lead healthy lives to model behaviors they encourage in patients. Jesus asks much from his followers, but he also healed the sick, dined with sinners, and eventually died on the cross, proving he is not merely the source of teachings on how to live as a child of God, but also the perfect example to follow for living a holy and moral life every day.

I want to be a leader who can call the best out of the others who work around me. I work with providers who I see give their best every day when taking care of patients, and that inspires and pushes me to give my best as well. These providers support me and others that we work with, answering questions and being encouraging leaders. Similarly, Jesus called qualities out of people that they did not previously know they possessed. He called fishermen and tax collectors to serve as his trusted apostles and expressed his belief in the ability of the overlooked—children, Gentiles, lepers—to serve as models of faith.

Perhaps most importantly, I want to be a leader with a “servant heart.” In the Gospel account we hear on Holy Thursday, Jesus humbles himself by putting himself in the position of a servant, washes the feet of his disciples, and then tells them, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” In a Bible full of metaphors, allegory, and poetic prose, this stands out as a stark example followed by a straightforward command.

This means that this is something to which we should pay close attention. I want to be a leader who seeks to benefit others and better their lives without seeking something in return, like the model Jesus puts forth in the Passover story. I can also see this in the providers at KC CARE. They see patients who the system overlooks, a medically complex population, when they could be better paid working elsewhere. They are leaders who do not put their own status or privilege first but center the good of their teams and those they serve.

I think that like many things in life, I will continue to explore what kind of physician and leader I want to be and grow into what that best looks like for me and my values. But this past year of service at KC CARE, and the reflection on my faith I’ve done has given me a solid foundation and incredible models to look up to in order to become a leader who is authentic, inspiring, and centered by a servant heart.

Allison is serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Go to preciousbloodvolunteers.org to learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers.