Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer CPE

Lisa asks why I don't stop by more often.

Soon, soon. Four weeks and one day.

(I have to count the day because I am on call today.)

It's difficult to convey how draining CPE is. Let me just list the requirements. This isn't a whine; this is just a list.

In the hospital for a regular 40 hour week.

On call once a week. Today is an easy one ~ a regular 8-4:30 workday. A weekday on-call follows such a regular workday, and goes from 4:30-noon the next day. You usually get to sleep a couple of times in two-hour spurts. Last Saturday night I didn't.

A variety of units on which to see patients. Mine include two ERs, a NICU, an ICU, and pre-and post heart surgery. On call, you have the entire hospital.

A level of acuity, as they call it, that ranks among the highest in the nation. That means that codes and deaths are daily routines.

Every possible kind of faith-related, despair-related, hope-related conversation.

And I haven't even mentioned the training or educational requirements for our little group of interns. Nearly daily meetings in which we explore what is going on for us. Weekly written reflections. Weekly verbatims (word by word scripts of encounters with patients, written for discussion and critique by supervisor or group). Four books to read and write about. Lecures. Rounds. I get to go to an open-heart surgery in a couple of weeks. (Yeah, I'm good with that. I watched my boys' c-section births in a mirror, and I've been to several other births - both methods. And from what I hear, the OR is so crowded that you mostly watch the monitors anyway.) Midterm and final evaluations, meaning a series of questions that boil down to several pages of: How are you doing with your goals? How is your experience? Articulate your theology. Little things like that.

As I said, it's just a list. No complaints, other than the unremitting exhaustion. It's an incredible experience, and I have wished many times this summer that seminary, which has often been a disappointing series of lectures and tests reflecting an unyielding devotion to teaching and learning methods long fallen by the wayside elsewhere, were more like this. Imagine engaging the texts of the Scripture and the commentaries of the last 3000 years with this kind of personal reflection and interactive dialogue! (They tell me second year will be better. I sure hope so. The first mostly demonstrated why we in the church have such problems communicating among ourselves and with others. We don't practice.)

Anyway ~ that's why I haven't been around much.

Just a few more weeks.


Joan Calvin said...

Wow! So much more than we had. I had one floor; I chose one of the heart floors. We didn't have extra books to read. Same schedule, though and same verbatims, discussions. I was exhausted. I can't imagine how tired you must be. You're in my prayers!

Presbyterian Gal said...

As exhausting as all this is, what rich blessings for your ministry this must be producing!

And dang, girl! You watched your own C-sections? I am beyond impressed.

Gannet Girl said...

One c-section. Twins.

Kathryn J said...

That is a lot to do even if you leave out the emotional piece which goes along with the acute nature of care at your large hospital. Do you have to do this next summer too?

Jodie said...

I don't know how this won't lead to burn out. The required adrenaline rush alone can reek havoc with your body.

Stay healthy.

Jan said...

Thanks for posting. Take care of yourself when you can!

LawAndGospel said...

I like you have not posted much for all of the same reasons. The one person on call for the whole hospital at night thing was a little mind boggling for me at first. Wondering why the oncall overnight room, which I rarely see is located below the chopper landing pad- not sleep promoting if I was actually getting any. Three weeks left for me. This week in exchange for getting to Minnesota to see LC#1 at Lutheran Summer Music, I work three shifts in two days. You are in my prayers as you continue your journey in CPE.

RevDrKate said...

Oh. My. The CPEs I was most familiar with were from the mental health/addictions world...taxing but not anything like what you are doing. YIPES! Prayers for you. Take care.

Althea N. Agape said...

only 2 weeks, 2 reflection papers, 1 pastoral life history on a teammate, 1 verbatim, and one self evaluation to go!

Oh, and 2 worship services with sermons that I was silly enough to agree to.

And packing for the trip to vacation spot where I will study for my ordination exams. I'm ready for school to start!

And yourself?