I have completed my first week of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). So far, I’ve really been enjoying the experience. Granted, getting up at 6am to carpool at 7.15 to get the 7.35 train to New Brunswick and to be at work by 8.30 is not my ideal summer schedule (and shirt/tie/coat is not ideal either); but it was a pretty good first week.
This week was heavy on orientation to both CPE and hospital life, though we did spend Thursday & Friday afternoons making visits. Much of our orientation was on hospital policies, learning which rooms required gowns and gloves (or masks in case of airborne infections). It’s amazing how “official” I felt once I received my name badge (which is the same as all the doctors, residents and staff chaplains) and my pager.
CPE is heavily influenced by the Action-Reflection education model, so we barely received any instruction at all on how to make the visits, what exactly to say, how to introduce ourselves, etc. We were just told to start making visits. Each of the 10 students in our group were assigned at least two floors, and I was assigned to the Surgical Oncology and Kidney Transplant units. Each is very unique, and I enjoyed meeting with the patients I saw last week. Out of all the oncology units, it has the healthiest patients; many are there post-op, and are recovering. The kidney transplant sees some dialysis patients and others who I haven’t met yet. In addition to my CPE Supervisor, I’ll be getting the chance to interact with a really wonderful Oncology Chaplain throughout the summer, and I’m really looking forward to that.
After the weekend is over, 3 of my colleagues will have already completed their first on-call. We have to do 7 on-calls throughout the summer – what that basically means is that we keep the on-call pager and get called to all the Code 40s (trauma in Emergency Department) and Code Blues (when a patient’s heart stops) in the hospital. On the weekend, you are the only chaplain around – so it’s a pretty intense experience. The hospital is one of three Trauma 1 hospitals in New Jersey and sees a lot (car/motorcycle accidents, shootings, stabbings, etc). I have my first on-call this Tuesday.
It’s definitely a more time-consuming venture than I’d like, but I think the ministry aspect and getting the chance to go through the experience will be very rewarding. This next week will give me a much better feel for what the summer should be like – with verbatims, interpersonal group work, my first on-call, and visiting patients all week. We’ll see…