Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Final Self-Evaluation for the Residency

1. Describe your understanding of the strengths and limitations of your ministry.
Strengths: I am authentic, transparent, self-aware, enthusiastic, compassionate, love people and hearing their stories, am open to personal change and transformation, preach and lead worship effectively, and am flexible/collegial (I don't need everything done my way, and I don't mind "out of the box" thinking/doing). I am also persistent when I want to be.
Limitations: I'm still seeking a good balance between: head and heart (as Doug told me once, my heart leads me to be compassionate, but my head leads me to maintain distance and I tend to rely upon my head); spontaneity and intentionality (I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, and am realizing that I can't be the person I want to be and not be intentional/deliberate about certain areas of my life); and pleasure and obligation (if I spend too much time doing "fun" stuff and am not productive enough, then I get consumed by guilt and overwhelmed. Likewise, if I spend too much time working/doing housework/whatever, then I lose any sense of fulfillment and run into exhaustion and resentment). I also struggle with the "tyranny of the they", meaning I often allow the opinions/perceptions of others guide my decisions, actions, and self-perceptions more than I would like. I do feel like I've grown in all these areas over the past year, especially the final one.

2. Describe your ability to provide ministry to a variety of people with particular attention to cultural and ethnic diversity, social conditions, systems, and justice issues, which may differ from your own.
I now realize just how much our own experience/culture informs how we view and interact with the world and those in it. My experience working with different families/patients (particularly those living in poverty or near to it), hearing/reading about the Tuskegee Experiment and the horrors of that, and encountering a young man who possesses incredible gifts for ministry yet is also an "open and out" homosexual, have all played a key role in this realization. As a pastoral care provider, I have a desire, an ability, and a duty to care for people who are different from me, but know that I may need to make adjustments in my method/role depending on the needs of the individual or family. One priceless lesson that I have learned is how important it is to HEAR peoples' stories, validate them and the feelings associated with them, and seek to understand where the other person is coming from before passing judgment (if any). I have a growing desire to work with people in order to bring about lasting change in individual lives and communities. I believe that so many cases of alcohol/drug abuse, poverty, and violence are largely due to systemic/cultural issues that contribute to poor choices on the part of an individual, not the other way around. I want to help empower individuals and communities, because I think a sense of powerlessness is part of the problem.

3. Describe your ability to make use of a variety of pastoral skills.
One of my biggest areas of growth this unit has been an increased confidence in, and use of, my own instincts. Instead of allowing my head to rule and my heart to follow along, I feel I am experiencing more and more moments when I follow my heart while being informed by my head. When the latter occurs, I have had moments of great personal fulfillment and a sense of effectiveness as measure by my own senses and by reactions of patients, families, and colleagues. For example, during a recent conversation with an 80-something woman who was moaning, "why don't I have any friends? How can I get friends?" I began to think of solutions to her problem and suggest them to her (head! she was asking a question! I was giving an answer!) only to immediately discover on my own that she didn't want answers right then, she wanted someone to BE a friend and listen to her. So, I listened for an hour, prayed with her, and offered appropriate questions/feedback when the time was right. It was one of my best visits ever, and at the end of the visit, she was calm and told me I had been her "angel." Up until recently, I believe that I possessed adequate, even good, pastoral skills. However, beginning to conquer this mountain has given me a confidence to USE those skills and therefore be more effective.

4. Describe your ability to provide specific pastoral care based on your understanding of behavioral science and theology.
I found this question hardest to answer, and saved it for last. I think that's ironic given the amount of attention I've paid to family systems over the past few months. I feel like I am able to observe and identify the basic workings of a specific family system, and provide pastoral care based on those observations. I have learned that depending on the system, a family may grieve and respond to death/crisis/tragedy in different ways. I feel that my role is to learn how that system works and meet them where they are, offering a different perspective at the appropriate time. In other words, to work as an agent of change and healing in a family, without imposing my own agenda on them. A lot of learning in this area occurred when my grandmother died, and I found myself crying beforehand, dry-eyed when I initially got the news, and telling people, "well, she lived to be 92, had a great life, we knew this was coming, at least she's not in pain anymore"...all things that drive me crazy when others say them, but they really were comforting to myself and my family. Observing the different ways my family and James' family handle grief has showed me that there is no "right way" or "wrong way" to do so...within reason, of course. In my own family and others, I have seen evidence of God's redeeming work within the dysfunction of a system, mostly thanks to individuals who were courageous enough to realize the need for change and make those changes.

5. Describe your ability to be accountable, productive, self-directed, and clear in your communication with others.
I believe that I have experienced significant growth in this area, although it remains a "growing area" for me, and probably will for some time. My growth has come in my willingness to a) admit this is a growth area, b) express a desire to change and explore the "whys" of this particular area, and c) understand that this goes way beyond buying a Palm Pilot and making lists; it's much, much deeper than that. I will say that I feel that my communication with others has improved this unit, particularly in my marriage, but also with my colleagues and supervisor. I'm beginning to realize that people can't read my mind and even those who know me very well can't always sense what's going on in my life...unless I tell them. I also believe that a lot of my current and future growth in this area revolves around being intentional and deliberate in both my personal and professional lives in order to accomplish what needs to be accomplished and on time to boot. Otherwise, my life controls me, when it ideally could be the other way around.

6. Describe your ability to make use of self in ministry with particular attention to emotional availability, appropriate self-disclosure, use of personal power, non-anxious presence, and responsible boundaries.
In some ways, I feel like being pregnant for about half of this unit and experiencing the decline/death of my grandmother both impeded and enhanced my growth in this area. Impeded because I was exhausted/nauseous so much of the time, was experiencing anticipatory (and then actual) grief, and really had to struggle to "be here" emotionally and physically. I tried not to let all the above affect my performance/participation, but I'm sure it did to a certain extent. Enhanced because I was committed to truly being present, was intentional at using the commute to work through emotions, and really made conscious efforts to acknowledge my emotions and the source of them, but not be controlled by them. As I've mentioned before, one of my proudest moments of the past year came when I held it together for two hours immediately before and during my grandmother's memorial service (which I led), despite all the emotions that were coursing through me, and heard my cousin say that she felt nothing but strength and peace coming from me. I don't think I could have done that (being a calm, non-anxious presence in that setting) a year ago. As my self-confidence has increased, I am much more confident establishing and enforcing boundaries, practicing appropriate self-disclosure, and using my personal power in a positive manner. I believe that parenthood has contributed a great deal to this growth; raising a toddler has opened my eyes to the necessity of boundaries ("no, we do not pull Mommy's hair") and to my power/influence as a parent, which for me transcends into my professional life.

7. Describe relationships with peers, and evaluate each peer.
The residents: I have thanked God many times since September for giving me such great colleagues. Thank you so much for speaking the truth in love, even though sometimes you needed to hit me over the head with it. I have appreciated your honesty, affirmations, critiques, and friendship.
The interns: as a group, you all have inspired and convicted me with your enthusiasm, gifts for ministry, initiative, creativity, and just being wonderful people overall. You have driven me to be a better person and therefore a better chaplain, and I am very grateful for that.

Note: individual evaluations have been deleted by me.

8. Describe relationship with supervision and evaluate supervisor.
Supervision: Having had one other supervisor (also very good) prior to beginning the residency, it took me a while to become used to Henry's slightly different supervisory style. With him, supervision is more like a conversation and the responsibility for direction lies equally with the student, especially during the later units. Once I realized that he did not have a secret passage in his office that led to the woodshed, I began to look forward to supervision as a time to bounce thoughts and ideas off of him and receive feedback on those thoughts. With very few exceptions (always related to me, not him), I have always left supervision feeling better and being clearer than when I began.
Supervisor: I'd say that I want to be Henry when I grow up, but I don't think I want to be a CPE supervisor, so there you go. I have spent many hours thanking God that I was able to have Henry be my supervisor for this residency. He was exactly what I needed at this time in my life and ministry. After having so many authority issues, it has been such a blessing for Henry to encourage me to use my own judgment and exercise my own authority (within reason, of course).

9. Describe relationship with other professionals.
I have enjoyed working as a team member in the ER, ICU, CCU, and with Palliative Care. Those are the settings where I have felt most like a team member and less like an independent contractor. My biggest authority issues in the past have been with ER staff, but I have received so few ER pages in the past few months that I haven't encountered any issues in that department. I have really enjoyed going on ICU rounds on Fridays when we don't have seminars and hearing the perspective of other disciplines on a patients care. I think one of the best examples of my growth in working with other professionals occurred a few months ago, when I was paged to a terminal extubation. The family was present, and death was expected to occur fairly quickly. Instead, when they extubated the patient, she woke up and within a few minutes was gasping for air (no oxygen, just room air) and clearly agitated. This made the family agitated, of course, because they were not expecting this. To make a long story short, I relayed the family's concern to the nurse and asked her what comfort measures could be put in place to make things easier for the patient/family. She wound up giving the patient oxygen through a nasal canula and a shot of Atavan (sp?). Within moments, the patient was asleep and much more peaceful, and so was the family. The nurse thanked me, explained that it was her first terminal extubation, and we had a few moments of "I couldn't do your job, but no, I couldn't do YOUR job, thanks so much" affirmations. I was careful to acknowledge her as the expert in medical care (compared to me, anyway) but knew that I had a responsibility to help her care for the patient, and show her what I was seeing.

10. Describe your ability to self-supervise.
I feel like a lot of growth has occurred in this area, just over the past few months, and I have seen the evidence in my clinical material and the response to it. Where before, Doug and the residents had to drag stuff out of me and "do my work for me", now I feel like I'm doing much more work on my own, and only rely on my peers and supervisors for insights I might have missed. I do feel so much more confident in naming my strengths, being creative, and standing by my decisions. Previously, I feel like I relied way too much on others to "show me the way" and to tell me who I was. However, now I feel that I know who I am, what I bring to the table, and where I need to improve. While I welcome feedback and input, and will continually seek arenas where I can receive it, I feel comfortable going about my professional and personal life without a "ride-along", to use Steve's terms. I think this (my confidence in self-supervision) will be tested in a matter of weeks, once the residency ends and I devote he majority of my time to being a wife and mother, with my only "colleague" during the day being a two-year-old and receiving feedback each night when my husband comes home.

11. Describe your learning goals and success in achieving them.
  • To decide on a summer project
    • Met. I essentially decided that my summer project was going to focus on me, so I consider this goal to be met. I feel that this final unit has been one of great learning and realization for me.
  • To decide about my immediate future, beginning September 1
    • Met. I will continue to seek a PRN/per-diem chaplain position, but will focus the majority of my time and energy on my growing family. I will continue to meet with my therapist once every two weeks for continued growth. I will speak with my D.S. about my sense of calling, and come June/July 2010 will probably seek a full-time chaplain job or a part-time parish position.
  • To grow in my ability to follow my instincts, rather than "being safe."
    • Met. I have discovered that when I follow my instincts, I usually wind up with a great sense of fulfillment and joy. Realizing that provides me with motivation to go beyond "safe mode."
  • To develop my ability to move beyond listening and facilitation to a deeper means of providing pastoral care
    • Met. I feel like a lot of this growth has occurred outside of the hospital (in my marriage, with family and friends), but I've learned the lesson that who I am as a person very much informs who I am as a pastoral care provider. A big part of this growth came when I realized how much I feel cheated when friends/colleagues merely enable me and offer sympathy instead of speaking the truth in love.

1 comment:

Luke said...

hey! i'm just entering CPE here in Lancaster and just wanted to say thanks for posting this! i googled CPE learning contracts and this came up.. i was SO happy to read your thoughts on the process as i am a little nervous going into this program.

thanks so much!