When chaplains write down conversations they have with patients to share with other professionals, the dialogue may reveal a heap more about themselves than about their stellar patient care. We like to think we are showing off our expertise and resultant comfort, but as any chaplain in training knows, our own issues can subconsciously leak out, especially when we show the transcript for other chaplains eager to hunt for our rooms for improvement. That is why we write these verbatims: to find out what gets in the way of better care and work to get it out of the way in the future.
I took a portion of the following verbatim from an article in the chaplain literature. Since the article did not allude to what I saw as a problem, partly out of curiosity, and partly as a challenge, I now invite my readers to look through the transcript and identify the issue, or the principal issue. So if you can stand the suspense, read through it, comment if you can, and you will hear my answer in my next post. I will also wait until then to respond to comments, so everyone has a chance to take this “test.” Good luck! Whoever gives a great answer will get honorable mention.
Chaplain: interaction #1 (The hospital patient seemed alert and was sitting up in bed reading a book. The chaplain knocked on the door.)
Patient: interaction #1 Yes, come in.
C2 Mrs. Jones, I’m So and So, the chaplain-on-call. I understand that you wanted to visit with a chaplain.
P2 (She smiled.) I like the way you said that…”to visit with a chaplain.” Our minister said that there would be chaplains available to talk to if I wanted to. (She winced some. I sensed that she might be in some pain. I waited a moment and then responded).
C2 Indeed, I am here to visit with you, Mrs. Jones. Am I picking up that you are in some pain right now?
P3 (Smiling but still wincing some.) You observed accurately, Chaplain. I am having some pain. Not a lot but some. By the way, it’s Mary. (A slight pause). I hate being in the hospital. The nurses are very sweet, and I have a very competent oncologist. But being here is such a waste of time.
C3 Mary, you sound like a busy person. It’s no fun just to lie here, especially in some pain, when you could be doing…what?
P4 I’m a manager of a large real estate company…Oh (she winces again).
C4 Mary, are you sure you feel like visiting now? I could come back another time, say, in the morning.
P5 Chaplain, you don’t need to stay. I know there’re probably some here worse off than me.
C5 Mary, if you want me to stay, I will. You’re important, and you did have the nurse page me.
P6 (Smiles slightly). Thanks, Chaplain. I would like to talk…I really don’t want to talk about it…But (winces slightly…pauses.)…I know I need to…My family physician came by while my daughter was here earlier… [She then tells her concerns in the rest of this transcript]
Write your answer here, under “Comments.” I will give a passing grade to all who try, and an “A” and special mention for the best answer!