Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | September 9, 2020

Five Questions with Robert Beichner

1. Can you explain your role at Duke?
As a Chaplain, my job is to help people identify their internal and external sources of strength and facilitate connecting to them. If that involves some kind of religious faith, so much the better – I’ve been trained in quite a few belief systems. If they are Christian, I have a whole toolbox at my disposal because I am an ordained Presbyterian pastor. But even if the person does not profess any particular faith, I can help them process what is happening to them. Sometimes the world just does not make any sense, and in those cases I will walk alongside them as they try to find their way.

2. What inspired you to choose this career path?
I was minding my own business as a long-term hospital volunteer, distributing newspapers and flowers, when I felt called by God to serve the patients, families and staff in the hospital in a deeper, more direct way. That meant three years of seminary (at Duke Divinity School), doing an internship (at Duke Raleigh Hospital) and a two-year residency at Rex, the long ordination and examination process of my denomination, and then retiring early from my nice, secure job at NC State.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I am amazed that I get to help people through some of the most difficult situations they have ever experienced. People are so open to sharing their lives with me that it sometimes takes my breath away – usually that’s a good thing, but not always!

4. What is the most challenging part of your job?
There are many times when I wish I could do more for people or at least provide more tangible help. It is hard to see people hurting, either physically or spiritually.

5. If you hadn’t chosen this career, what other profession interests you?
I spent over 30 years as a tenured physics professor at NC State, so I’d guess you could say that would be an interest of mine! I’ve always appreciated the exquisite description of nature that science can provide.​

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