Exit Thoughts on 2008

It’s been a while since I’ve posted; I keep thinking that someday I’ll have the time to post on a more regular basis.

It’s been quite a year; the most important news is good: George W. Bush leaves office in 20 days and Barack Obama will take the helm. It’s been a long 8 years and I believe the country has suffered greatly under the Bush years. He believes that history will vindicate him and his reputation (like Harry Truman’s) will improve. I, on the other hand, believe in 20 years it will be hard to find anyone who will admit that they voted for him.

Much of the rest of the news is bad. It’s hard to believe what’s happened to the economy in the last year. Wall Street will be open tomorrow and these numbers will change, but not significantly. Stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average have declined nearly 35% this year. Unemployment is up and it appears we are in the beginning stages of a long and painful recession. As for Nancy and me, our portfolio has gone down 28% (even with our contributions to our retirement plans). My employer, San Diego Hospice, like many nonprofits, is feeling the twin blows of decreased donations and declining stock portfolios. So far they’ve announced no payraises in 2009 as well as no employer contributions to our 401(k)’s. We’ve also had some layoffs in the bereavement department. It appears my job is safe though.

Speaking of jobs, there has been some good news in that department. In February I’ll celebrate 4 years at San Diego Hospice (and I just passed 11 years as a hospice chaplain). For the past 3 years I’ve been a preceptor: I’ve been one of the chaplains who has mentored new chaplains in the agency. I’ve found that I really love meeting and mentoring new folk. I appear to have some success: of the 7 new chaplains I’ve mentored, all are still with the agency. I’ve been asked if I’m interested in going up the ladder in management, and while that’s flattering I have no desire to do that. Last month ago the agency decided to come up with a new classification: advanced clinician master preceptor. We are developing two teams where everyone (nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain) is a preceptor and will mentor new employees as a team. This sounds complicated as I’m describing this, but let me say this: I applied for one of the positions and was accepted into the program.

This is really the best of both worlds as I will continue to see patients and do more mentoring. I’ll also be working on a team where all of us are advanced clinicians. Since there are two teams, I’ll be working with another chaplain and it’s someone I work well with. The teams will be working closely together to develop curricula, not only for new employees, but for the agency as a whole. I’ll be working on a nursing home team (not a home team) and I haven’t worked in nursing homes since I was with Odyssey over 4 years ago. As I told my new boss, there will be a definite “remembering curve.” I’ll also be working at nursing homes much closer to home which will give my Prius a break.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted in a while is that I was down with a bad case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. I came down with it the beginning of November, and ironically enough, my worst day with it was election day. As I told Nancy, I never remember being this sick, and the day I’ve been anticipating for 8 years was not even a day I could celebrate well. It was horrible and I can’t imagine what it must be like for infants and children. It’s not hard to imagine how this can be fatal in infants. I missed a week and a half of work and probably came back too soon. Even now I have an occasional coughing fit. It was probably exacerbated by my asthma but even so, my heart goes out to anyone who has this illness. It’s good to be feeling better.

Finally, let us all pray that 2009 is a good year for all.

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