Hospital chaplains provide comfort and support to patients and their families during some of life’s most sensitive moments.
To broaden the department’s capacity in meeting spiritual and emotional needs, a new Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program has been launched at CoxHealth. The residency allows for both clinical and educational training, readying residents to serve as professional chaplains after graduation.
“We are excited to launch this residency at CoxHealth, and the timing could not be better,” says Curt McLaughlin, system director of Pastoral Care at CoxHealth. “Although they are still getting acclimated, the resident chaplains are needed reinforcements during this pandemic, and are providing added support for our patients and our staff.”
CoxHealth’s program is in collaboration with the Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training (ICPT), which is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. It is ICPT’s first site-based residency program in the nation.
Residents in the program spend 40 hours each week at the hospital, where they complete 10 hours of education and 30 hours of serving patients and families. It’s only one step in their educational process, which comes after completing both relevant bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as ordination from their faith community. Upon completing this one-year program, residents will be able to apply to be a board-certified chaplain to work in their desired field.
“Hospitals are unique places where patients own ‘their’ space,” says McLaughlin. “That’s what CPE offers. It helps teach the art of chaplaincy, and how to best serve patients in times when they need support the most.”
The program will be overseen by Aaron Holt, Certified Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor.
Funding to make this program a reality came from the CoxHealth Foundation, which helped offset costs of the initiative.
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