David Daniel Klepper: Helping His Mom Promote Patient-Doctor Communication


When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

My mom had talked to me about a SHARE program she had with doctors, "Side by Side: Patient-Doctor Communication." I used to hang around with one of the emergency room doctors at Stanford Hospital while I worked there in pastoral care, and he happened to mention he wanted to train the residents on how to give bad news. I told him my mother worked for an organization called SHARE that did training in patient-doctor communication. So a whole raft of conversations got started.

In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?

Eventually, we had a program at the hospital with three SHARE members and 18 residents. After a little presentation, the residents were formed into three groups of six, and each of the SHARE people played the patient in one of three role-play scenarios for each group. They would then rotate, with two residents pretending to be the doctor in the role play. In the end all six people got to do the role play and to see their peers do it in different scenarios.

The first year the program was done twice. The second year it was done twice on separate occasions. The hospital was very happy with the program; it went very successfully. We did it two more years, and it was a lot of fun. It was good training for the residents, and SHARE got to do some education. So it was win-win all around.

Regarding Lee, I remember that from time to time, Lee switched jobs. She was the kind of person who really wanted to do new things. She got very involved in doctor-patient work; then she got very involved in grief work for a while. She always maintained her volunteer status. I think not being on the board enabled her to advocate for her programs relentlessly; she could just do what she felt was right. And my mother was relentless about things she believed in. I was on the receiving end of that many a time!

How has SHARE helped you?

It helped me in the sense that I got to coordinate an activity for the hospital that did some good, and I felt good about that. But for my mom, I think it was wonderful. I think it kept her alive. It kept her brain sharp, and it gave her something to do. It gave her the ability to not do things on the days she didn't have SHARE and not feel like she was just a slug.

I think she also built work relationships of great intensity and long duration. She had a lot of ownership at SHARE, and she was very gratified when things went well. It was invaluable for her. I am now semi-retired and doing some part-time teaching from my home on an online basis. I'm looking forward to finding volunteer work and causes to believe in like she had with SHARE, in the hope of experiencing the same benefits. You can't measure how helpful it was to her.

I'm personally grateful to SHARE for the opportunity it offered my mother to serve and contribute. And in addition to being happy that SHARE was there for her in times when she needed it, I know that helping SHARE be there for others was a source of support and competency and satisfaction for her.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

That SHARE finds 40 wealthy donors that could enable SHARE to start expanding geographically and to increase its programs! SHARE is not looking for a cure. It is focused on supporting people with the disease--using different services than what a hospital social worker offers. It's a self-help group, not an outsider-facilitated group. There are aspects of self-help that are special and unique.