At my initial interview with HUC, Aunt Diane and I sat in the office of the Director of Admissions, where she told us about all of the opportunities that awaited me if/when I became an HUC student. One of those opportunities was a summer of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), where I'd be spending my summer as a chaplain in one of New York City's many hospitals. As soon as she mentioned this program, my ears perked up and I knew this was an opportunity I'd want to take advantage of. As clergy, we'll spend our days visiting congregants in hospitals and working with families of very sick people. We need to know the right things to say (or not say) and the proper ways to act in very tough situations. We need to be prepared for the emotional and physical turmoil an illness can bring to a person and/or a family and how to best bring them comfort and peace. As someone who finds it incredibly difficult to find the right words to say and the correct ways to reach out to people in these conditions, I knew that CPE would be a good program for me to participate in.
I knew since the beginning of the year that this summer was the right one for CPE. I feel more at peace with New York City and my place as a cantorial student, and I'm not longing for St Louis the way I used to. After completing the LONG and somewhat painful application, which included forms, references, essays, and reminders (the office buried my application away somewhere and lost it--had I not called them after winter break, I never would have had an interview), I finally landed an interview with the hospital I most wanted to work for.
Last week, I finally went to be interviewed; I had my professional dress, heels and makeup on, and my resume in hand. I was prepared to answer personal questions (they need to know you're emotionally stable to handle working with terminally-ill patients) and readyed myself for a thought-provoking, challenging interview. Long story short, the actual face-to-face interview never happened. I talked to the supervisor on the phone in the office lobby and we both agreed that I was eligible and ready for the program and that an in-person interview wasn't necessary. Several of my classmates participated in this same program last summer, so they'd already filled me in on the program and answered a lot of my questions.
I'll be spending my summer working at Beth Israel Medical Center, located near Union Square. I'm nervous for CPE and I know it will be a challenging, heartbreaking, eye-opening experience. None of my colleagues who have participated in the program have come away disappointed or empty-handed, though, so I know it'll be a worthwhile summer program.
I'll be chronicling as much of the experience as I'm allowed via the blog; for privacy reasons, I'm sure I won't be allowed to go into detail about any of my patients. I will, however, try to blog about how the experience effect me as a person and as a cantor. I'm interested to see where the road takes me emotionally, academically, and spiritually.
Without a doubt, this summer is going to be a wonderful challenge. I'll miss being in St Louis with my family, friends, and crazy little dog, but I look forward to summer in the city--I've heard it's fantastic!