Make sure you know the question before you give the answer.
My kids taught me a lot about this job. At age seven, my son said, "Dad, where did I come from?" I knew that question was coming, but I had not expected it that soon. "Son," I said, "Let me explain about life" As I began my meticulously rehearsed tale of the birds and the bees, I slowly explained the nuances of life, love and more bees.
I was perspiring profusely as I stumbled over these sensitive descriptions. After about ten minutes of squirming, stuttering and stammering I said, "Do you understand, son?" To which he turned to me and said, "Heck, Dad, I knew all that stuff. I just wanted to know what hospital I came from, Mercy or Windber?"
Learn to share.
Hospitals deal every day in life and death issues. They are extremely complex and multifarious places. Emotions can run very high as well as we deal with the challenges and mysteries of life. Helping people to share has been a very large part of my life. Helping them to share resources, time, space and all aspects of life is a very important contributor to our success as both care givers and human beings. When I was eight, my Aunt Mildred gave me three pieces of bubble gum. As I was walking home with all three pieces stuffed into my jaw, a group of kids jumped me, pinned me down, took my gum right out of my mouth and divided it up between them. It would have been a lot easier on me if I had just kept a few pieces out to share.
Finally, don’t repeat it if you don’t understand it.
In any organization there always seems to be someone who takes great pleasure in telling the story when they aren't really sure of its meaning. After standing near Jack, a 15 year old sixth grader at school one day, my vocabulary expanded exponentially. He talked about mysterious things that made no sense to me, but he was big and I was small. In my world, that meant that Jack knew all. That night when my mom told me, the little third grader, to get ready for bed, I looked up at her standing beside my grandmother, aunt and dad and said, "I don’t have to go to bed, you @$#%&*$@!"
My limp cleared up right before I had to walk across the stage to pick up my college diploma thirteen years later.
Learn from your mistakes.