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10 April 2011 @ 06:56 pm
clinical reflection  
Looks like I'll be at the hospital for another year. This is good. I don't always handle change in the most dignified of manners, and getting to continue my clinical work in a setting with which I am already familiar is quite reassuring. I like my supervisor. The hospital is only a mile away (literally...I walk). And I pretty much get to name my department, which will be helpful in dealing with my current stressors. 

However, it does mean that I have to wear that name badge for another year.  It says SARAH in great big letters beside my picture with a little bitty "Priest" underneath. Under that is the department through which I work--"Chaplaincy Services". The truly unfortunate part of this whole badge-wearing thing is that people think I'm actually a priest...like ordained and all holy. They don't get that it's my LAST NAME and that ALL OF THE COUNSELORS work out of Chaplaincy Services and that I'm not a walking confessional booth who charts your sins and atones for them with hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer. That's another thing I'm not going to miss about hospitals when I am done working there. I have to lather up with that stuff after every single patient I see. I understand the policy, but sometimes I fear for the lack of germs on my hands. Isn't there a reason we have a normal flora?

Anyways...back to the confessionals. People tell me stuff...as they should. After all, I do introduce myself them as a counseling intern, and I use all of my super-skills to get them to talk about their shit, even if they don't appear to want to. BUT every now and again, people see that badge of mine if it happens to surface from underneath my mounds of hair, and they start telling me every detail of everything they've ever done wrong. Then they ask me if God still loves them and if they'll go to hell. Sigh. I usually try to redirect to something we can actually work on, but people really seem to be concerned about that whole hell thing. After about five or six mentions of Jesus, I try to give my shpeal again about how I'm a counseling intern and not and chaplain and how I'd be happy to send in the guy who carries the Bible rather than the stack of community services/agencies/programs for mental health and who doesn't need to see you to fulfill her direct client contact hours for a Master's program.

Sometimes I want to level with my patients and tell them that they're practice. I mean, some of them I really like. Some of them I have cried over...lost sleep over...stopped in to see when I was off the clock and in my street clothes. But, there are those patients who are just practice for me. I try stuff out on them. Techniques. Stuff in books that I'm made to read. New ways of exploration and confrontation. Now, this is not to say I'm doing any harm. Non-maleficence is our first rule. It's the beneficence part that's tricky, and quite frankly, I'm new at this, and I might not get your mental health ball rolling. Is it okay that I just want to let you know that?

But, if I admit to being anything other than an outstanding professional who is completely qualified to walk into your room unannounced, to read the entirety of your chart...including your medical history, and to start talking to you about your experience in the hospital, then you clam up and wonder what the heck an intern is doing walking about the halls starting conversations with strangers. My job is to get to know strangers, and to start a completely one-sided relationship with them, that often has little to no resolution (I mean, people get discharged all of the time). It's kind of odd, don't you think? But if I even let on to the fact that, YES, it's ODD that I'm walking into your room knowing lots of information about you and trying to get you to talk about it...I'm suddenly out of people who are willing to let me practice. In counseling world, they call this "acting as if"--it's a technique we try to get clients to use all of the time. Essentially, it's a fake-it-till-you-make-it tool. And I'll be damned, because it works. People talk to me about their shit.

But maybe it's all in the last name.