The Neurosurgeon’s Prayer

Meghan Murphy (M'11)

I owe to my grandparents, parents and siblings where I have been, where I am now and who I have become as a person of faith, a wife, a daughter, a friend and a physician.

I grew up going to public school but attending Catholic church and Sunday school weekly. For my parents, faith was an integral part of our family structure and their marriage, and set the foundation for our upbringing. Both sets of grandparents were strong in their faith, and service to God and others was a paramount part of life.

For my undergraduate education, I followed my sister to the University of Notre Dame. The incredible faith community led by the Holy Cross priests fostered my growing faith. After college, I was inspired to pursue medicine like my brother. I felt a calling to serve others through healing. Georgetown University School of Medicine matched my career goals—a strong academic tradition with the Jesuit ideals of service, humility and faith integrated into the practice of medicine.

Meghan Murphy

As a medical student, I was able to attend Mass with some of my peers regularly in the medical school or in the hospital chapel. The Anatomical Donor Mass was an experience that stays with me. Today when I work in the cadaver lab as a resident, I say a prayer of gratitude for those who donate their bodies to science and education—an incredible gift that serves so many others.

My faith played a role in choosing my specialty, as I sought guidance in where I was meant to go and which patients I was meant to serve. Through prayer, reflection and a lot of wisdom shared by family, friends and mentors, I chose neurosurgery. Now in my fifth year of residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, I feel fortunate to be training with the highest caliber of surgeons, colleagues and support staff. I am grateful to the Franciscan tradition at Mayo Clinic, with the hospital at Saint

Mary’s founded by the Sisters of St. Francis back in 1889. The patient-centered care embodied by the Mayo mission reflects how I want to practice medicine.

As my wise mother has always told me, you need faith in life. I feel that one needs faith as a physician to best serve patients and their families. The human body is an intricate and complex entity—the body’s physiology and anatomy play a role in healing, but the human spirit remains another variable that requires care. In the care of the whole person, both the pathophysiology and the spirit need to be addressed.

A foundation in faith can help connect physicians with patients in an essential way that supports healing.

I look to prayer before entering the operating room—for difficult cases, for suffering patients, for strength in training. My path to Mayo through Notre Dame and Georgetown has fostered faith as an integral part of how I practice medicine. The Holy Cross and Jesuit traditions of service embody the purpose of physicians. I am thankful for my experiences, training and all the mentors who have given their time and energy to teach me.

Sometimes it is easy to be distracted by the challenges and demands of training. A faith tradition can help health care providers maintain much-needed composure, humility, strength and compassion. A prayer I keep in the pocket of my white coat is one that the Sisters have for hospital staff; it is a comfort and an inspiration.

O, Divine Healer, hear and receive our gratitude for our call to be a healing presence in the lives of those we serve. Bless each of us with your gift of healing for those we encounter and for ourselves as well. Amen. 

Megan Murphy (M'11) 
Resident Neurological Surgeon, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota