Reflections from Executive Director Terry Chadsey
night I gathered in the hospital room with family around the bedside of
an elderly loved one. It was a poignant moment. She was hospitalized
for a diagnostic procedure. The immediate findings were not good. More
will be known when the biopsy results return. Yet, I witnessed that night a convergence of forces that made it a lovely if rare human moment.
The relationships: on the spur of a moment, the room was full of loving family, three generations, children and children in laws, grandchildren and their partners. Each individual was dealing with the meaning of this difficult situation in their own way and together. There was love, humor, sadness, and problem solving in the room and everyone was present.
The professional: the surgeon arrived to report the results of the procedure to the patient. I watched a master professional at work. He first of all connected with the patient. There might as well not been anyone else in the room. He was not distracted. He knew for whom he was there in that moment. He was warm, clear and honest. He connected. He described what she needed to know and answered her questions. She listened carefully and thanked the doctor. I could only imagine the work and attention he has done to be there in that way at the end of a harried work day. My mind was brought to Parker Palmer’s essay on “The New Professional” that challenges us to ensure that this core capacity is an outcome of professional education.
The institution: my eyes wandered to a poster on the bulletin board in that hospital room. It said, “We recognize the important role that patients and families play in health care. As we care for patients, we honor the strengths, priorities and preferences of each patient and family and involve them in medical decisions, every step of the way.” Too often such posters are rendered ridiculous because what’s happening in the room is the opposite of such stated intentions. That evening, that moment, this was not true. It was a wonderful point of alignment between the rich family relationships forged over lifetimes, a professional who knew that all his skill and knowledge was in service of making a human connection, and an institution that publicly professes to support such practice.
This is the work of the Center for Courage & Renewal: to nurture personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it, knowing that when individuals fully claim their full potential, then they call on their families, their communities and their organizations to do so as well.
What are your own stories when relationships, professionalism and institutions converge to create such a human moment?