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A Change of Station: Serving Two Crews

Small ship leaving port during a storm.

This was my last week working for the 988 hotline at Boys Town. I served for 1 year, 4 months, and 6 days as a crisis counselor, and I learned a great deal from the experience.

It has certainly impacted my life, and I hope I made a positive impact in the lives of others as well.

In my role, I sat with people on the edge of the abyss, as they agonized over whether a jump into the darkness might end their pain. I counseled exhausted parents unsure of what to do with their rebellious child. I heard the self-blame of those who had been harmed by con artists and manipulators. And I grieved with callers who mourned the sudden loss of a loved one. Working as a crisis counselor has provided an unfiltered education into the nuances of human suffering, and it's a harsh tutor.

Over this time, I have gained a deep level of respect for crisis counselors, therapists, social workers, and all of those who work in the underappreciated space known as "human services."

In some ways I will miss working at the hotline. I met some great colleagues there and I believe the 988 number provides an extremely valuable service to the community. I'm not leaving the hotline because it's unimportant work. Rather, I'm leaving the hotline because I have an opportunity to advance my own mission as a support provider to healthcare professionals.

I am transitioning away from the hotline in order to take a half-time teaching position at Clarkson College in Omaha, Nebraska. Moving forward, I will be serving as an associate professor in Clarkson's general education program. In my role I will be helping to prepare future nurses, psychologists, radiographers, physical therapy assistants, and other healthcare professionals. Some of the courses that I will be teaching include: introduction to sociology, social psychology, and death and dying.

Clarkson College is operated by Nebraska Medicine, the organization that I currently work for as a half-time staff chaplain. I will continue working as a staff chaplain for Nebraska Medicine while I also serve as a faculty member at Clarkson College.

I will now support and encourage both healthcare students preparing for their careers as well as seasoned medical professionals already in service. Metaphorically speaking, I get to care for those just setting sail on their adventure as well as those who have experienced multiple storms. I serve both crews now.

A small ship tethered to a dock and a large ship sailing past out of a storm.

As I continue on my own journey, I want to thank the experienced crisis counselors and supervisors at Boys Town that have helped me improve my listening and communication skills over the past 16 months. And of course, I will long remember many of the help-seekers who reached out by phone, text, or chat. I am a much better staff chaplain because of what you taught me. And I am confident I will be a much better teacher now as well. My prayers are with you all. Godspeed!

Credits: (Both photos of ships created with Microsoft Bing image creator from Designer powered by DALL-E 3.)

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