The Group

Palliative Care Medicine Team:1 Physician, 3 nurses, 1 social worker, 1 chaplain and Ancillary Services: 2 social workers, 2 chaplains, 1 child Life specialist, 1 music therapist. 12 Participants including the 2 Facilitators.


The photograph and the poem went well together and were a compatible and compelling start to our series. The photograph also provided some levity, which helped everyone feel comfortable and able to engage. Participants were touched by the poem and had some wonderful personal reflections. Some comments included: they were touched by the experience of getting in touch with their families of origin and the "beliefs" held by their families--especially around grief and loss, how to treat others, the power of just being present, not needing to know "the right thing to say," recognizing that we are all very different persoanlities yet see many things from a similar perspective, accepting ambiguity, that it's OK not to have all the answers, seeds of learning are always being planted.


More people indicated they would come than showed up. This makes providing food more challenging. Reminders were sent out, but we know in the hospital sometimes emergencies come up. Some people were fairly quiet. I tried to balance specifically "popcorn" methodology and "round robin"--inviting a response from everyone on "lighter" questions and allowing anyone to respond on meatier questions. I will continue to monitor, and I think address this at the baginning of the session a little more intentionally. However, there was good interaction and participation from everyone.

Opening Activity

Yes. Participants introduced themselves and the unit or department where they work, and then responded to the question: Think of one thing you learned from a parent or someone else close to you when you were growing up ... something about how to relate to the needs of others. How did you learn this--through explicit teaching, by example, or in some other way?

Discussion Questions

IMAGE: If you were to name this photo, what would you name it? If you were one of the women in this picture, which would you be? What would you be thinking or feeling? Which of the people most hold your attention? Why? What is going on here? What details capture your imagination? Is anything good or useful being taught here? What questions does the image prompt you to ask? What do you make of the setting of this apparent lesson? What kind of teaching style is it? Does it work? Do you see yourself or your work anywhere here in this image? What are the qualities of a good teacher? Where does the best learning happen? What opportunities do we have to teach other members of our teams - regardless of our roles or disciplines?

POETRY: What is the poet trying to tell us? Why do you think she talks about learning but not teaching? Why do you think so many of the examples the poet gives of what she learned are concerned with grief and comfort? What is the difference between learning things by being taught and learing things by example? How do you feel about her statement: "I learned to create from another's suffering my own usefulness." Why does she say that "once you know how to do this, you can never refuse"? Do you agree?

Closing Activity

What do you take away from this discussion--what's rolling around in your head as we leave today? What can we think about in our own work in light of what we've said or heard? We also gave them a feedback sheet to reflect on for a few moments quietly and individually and then write responses and turn in to us: In what ways has this session deepened your understanding of Reflective Reading? In what ways are you feeling more connected and engaged with your colleagues? What was your most significant learning? What did you like best about the session? How can we improve to meet our purpose and intended results?

Final Thoughts

This was a wonderful experience and we are looking forward to next month's session! We invited people to "bring a friend" to the next session.

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