Monday, February 8, 2010

End-of-Life Care - a Learning Opportunity



“I must have missed that course in school.”

Whether we are referencing seminary, social work school, nursing school, or medical school, there are some career experiences that leave us feeling like we must have missed something. Staring into the faces of a family that is struggling with decisions about end-of-life care is one of those situations. As human beings who are nurtured by families and communities, we have developed some basic skills that help us respond when a neighbor or a stranger is grieving. We know we should be kind to them, express sympathy, and offer to help. Our extensive advances in medical technology, however, have left some patients and their families trapped in difficult “in between” territory. A human being who in days past would have died in the natural course of a disease process can now be kept alive by machines, medicine, and around-the-clock nursing interventions. That person can be kept alive far beyond his or her ability to appreciate or enjoy life.

You and I are often the people these patents’ family members look to for guidance amid these emotional and moral quagmires. Responding to their searching stares with inspiring clich├ęs or just more technical information proves unhelpful. This is true because the ethical and religious mazes of these dilemmas are mixed in with longstanding family dynamics and the messy landscape of anticipatory grief with all its sadness, guilt, and anger.

“Was I sick the day we had this lecture?”

If that’s how you sometimes feel when you care for people in these predicaments, this year’s Faith Community Leadership Summit is one you cannot afford to skip. You will hear from clinicians who courageously lead patients and families through the humbling and holy encounter with dying. They will teach from both their personal experiences and state-of-the art research. If you feel like you missed out on a piece of training when confronted with these situations, this is make-up day. Don’t miss it.

Register today here! . For more information, please call 817-703-8432.

- Timothy Madison, PhD, BCC
Chaplain Manager
timothymadison@texashealth.org

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