Restoring the Healer

Spiritual Self-Care for Health Care Professionals

William E. Dorman

Burn out. Two words that haunt those in high stress jobs, especially in the medical profession. Long hours and the literal life-and-death nature of the field creates expectations to not only be on call at all hours, but to be at one’s best, even at 3:00 AM after a twenty-hour shift. So much energy is devoted to the care of others that self-care is forgotten.

Yet, more are noticing and research confirms that self-care is needed, not only for personal sanity but also for quality of work. Unwell medical professionals are not the best at treating others. And this self-care includes not just rest, food, and water, but a deeper care, one that tends the spiritual side as well.

To both the spiritually active and the spiritually resistant, hospital chaplain William Dorman offers a guide to understand a more comprehensive, full-bodied self-care. Each chapter begins with case studies, concrete experiences that help unpack abstract concepts which bring much needed peace to stressed individuals. Dorman also structures each chapter to end with prayers and action steps, which offer more concrete ways to care for the self.

From working as a hospital chaplain for over 18 years, and serving as the director of chaplaincy services for the largest integrated health care system in New Mexico, Rev. Dorman recognizes the stresses that come to those who have made it their profession to heal others. Healers need healing too—and this guide is the first step.

Foreword by Christina M. Puchalski, MD / xv

Preface / xvii

Acknowledgments / xxv

Introduction / 3

Chapter 1: Embrace Awe / 9

Chapter 2: Heal Your Inner Healer / 19

Chapter 3: Keep Tragedy in Perspective / 30

Chapter 4: See the Patient as a Person / 39

Chapter 5: Practice Self-Care / 50

Chapter 6: Make Peace with the Tragic / 61

Chapter 7: Find Balance / 71

Chapter 8: Contend with Limits and Possibilities / 81

Chapter 9: Show Compassion / 94

Chapter 10: Rediscover Your Passion, Purpose, Resiliency / 115

Chapter 11: Offer Kindness and Humility / 151

Chapter 12: Express Encouragement, Gratitude, and Humor / 165

Afterword / 179               

About the Author / 181

Theological Studies, Vol. 78(4)

“The author’s breadth of clinical experience shines. Dorman’s selection of powerful stories reveal gripping human encounters packed with layers of meaning. Healthcare certainly needs the insight and skill of one like D. to pause, reflect, and make sense of the dizzying episodes that daily unfold in the clinical setting.”

Darren M. Henson, Presence Health, Chicago

Association of Professional Chaplains Forum–Vol. 19 No. 2

“This book is a great resource for anyone who provides care at the bedside and who feels the spiritual weight of their work. It would serve well as the text for a discussion group or for a class teaching spirituality as part of whole-self-care. For chaplains, it could be used as a health care Rosetta Stone, becoming the medium by which the rich imagery and spiritual power of religiously shaped spiritual exercises can be decoded and offered as sustenance to harried clinicians (APC Pastoral Care Competencies 3, 7, 8, and 9). Clergy and pastoral counselors who care for health care professionals in their communities will gain insight into the sometimes hard to articulate experiences that trouble and uplift those seeking guidance.”

Keith Goheen, BCC, Chaplain, Beebe Healthcare