Last week I shadowed a half-dozen chaplains around the hospital.
Part of my department orientation to being a chaplain at this particular institution is to learn the unique idiosyncrasies. Which set of papers to fill out upon a death, how to contact the morgue if a family wants to view a body, what protocol to follow when there is a Code Blue, how to call the shuttle after hours to go between campuses, how to chart spiritual assessments so that it helps the next person who will visit, how to use the "clock in" time keeping system, etc. etc. etc.
During my year as a resident, I learned the art and science of being a chaplain amidst an institution that was set up a bit differently. The culture was one of learning, exploring, making mistakes, asking questions, reflecting, and doing it again and again and again. Eventually, right about the last week, I finally felt like I could simply show up and even though I didn't know what the pager might bring, I knew how to navigate the space, the system, the relationships, the staff and the paperwork.
Last week I shadowed a half-dozen Pro's. They know their stuff. They know the procedures, policies, charting. They showed me how to connect with the staff. They've been doing this for 7 years, 16 years, 25 years...it's in their blood. They shared their terms of endearment for certain personalities "Big Bob" or insider names of key spaces like "the snake pit."
And, I realized at my supervisor's coaching, I'm now one of them. "Can I actually write *that* on the chart?" I asked. She said, "Yes. You're not a resident anymore. You are a Chaplain."
So my prayer is that with God's help, I will fill the shoes of a Pro Chaplain. As my sister said to me at the 20-mile mark of the Chicago marathon, "You have been training for this day for a year. You are ready. Get up off the curb and run like a pro!" May I remember the encouraging words of my residency supervisor and my yaar-colleague-resident chaplains. My I approach this ministry always with fear and trembling. Amen.