The first week is done, the second week is beginning.
Last week was orientation, eight hours a day, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
I would say about 20% of it was the paperwork and verbal declarations of a new employee of a corporate medical system—HIPPA, dress code, commitment to diversity and a non-hostile work environment. Sign, sign, sign. It’s always shocking how a century of bad experiences and the best intentions toward reparation can turn into a stack of flat documents written by lawyers that no one reads. Then another 30% was actually related to introducing me and my peers to the craft of chaplaincy. My fellow students are eight in all, half men, half women, and I am at the young end of my cohort—as it is a part-time single unit designed for people like us—three Catholics, one priest, a Lutheran and a Baptist minister, a Unitarian studying for ministry and a Swedenborgian. A racially a mixed group, and walking down a hospital hall together I realized that I was the second tallest person in the group, which is weird. We discussed scheduling, philosophy, and overnights, where we stay in a little apartment owned by CPMC and be prepared to leap when the overnight pager buzzes and jump into a cab to one of four different hospitals to sit with G_D knows what. We did a role-play, where I got what I considered my “take home:” in hospice I’ve learned to sit with people in crisis, but the scale is different—as a volunteer I’m with somebody for one and a half to three hours, as a chaplain it will mostly be five minutes to half an hour. Quantity changes the quality. The final 50% of Orientation Week was taken up with just touring four hospitals, walking, walking, walking, and I realized I would have extensive opportunity to deepen my understanding of Heschel’s, “I felt my feet were praying.” I’m going to be on them a lot, so I might as well practice raising it up.
Now, I’m on the bus to the first day of my second week, left the house at 6:30am to get to work by 8:30 (hopefully). I’ll be shadowing this week twice—today following along behind watching what a staff chaplain’s day is like for four hours, then I’ll have four hours of training in electronic health recordkeeping. On Thursday I’ll shadow again, but this time I will take the lead while the staff chaplain watches and gives critique.
Then next Sunday, overnight. Into the deep end of the pool.