I have a confession. I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve been a faithful viewer since it premiered 8 seasons ago. And for years I have been saying that they need to get a chaplain on that show (Shonda Rhimes, are you listening?)
Initially, I started watching because I thought McDreamy was cute. And then he did Made of Honor and I lost my respect for the dashing neurosurgeon. Still, I stayed with the show, despite some strange plot lines (Izzy & her ghost lover, that horrible musical episode?!)
But the funny thing is, I do believe this show has made me a better chaplain. There have been MANY ethical situations highlighted that have seemed absurd or far-fetched – and then I watched them happen in real life!
What’s more, I’ve borrowed their lines. When I was a CPE Resident, I was sharing a verbatim about a scared trauma patient who had just suffered a brutal assault. It was protocol for me to retrieve her contact information, and she cried “I have nobody, nobody to be with me. I don’t have a contact person, no one” Without thinking, I grabbed her hand and said “I’ll be your person then.” My supervisor was impressed by my “profound and touching” statement. I sheepishly admitted I blatantly ripped it off and Cristina had said something similar to Meredith (or the other way around?!) last season.
From this prime-time drama, chaplain students and the general public can learn about the emotional aspects of life in the hospital. As I watched an episode a few weeks ago, there was a scene where Meredith (one of the surgical residents) was with the daughter of a patient who was about to have his ventilator removed. She was there in the room. She explained what was about to happen. Granted, she should have paged the chaplain, but still, network television is highlighting these moments that happen all the time.
Perhaps the other lesson here is that we could use a show about what chaplains do everyday. I’ll start writing the pilot and wooing Hollywood. Although, in my show I will probably leave out all the scandalous behavior that tends to go on in Grey’s Anatomy’s on-call rooms!