Thursday, December 3, 2015

Open Letter to CPE Supervisors and Diplomates

It is rare that I have ever written an article like this, but it’s time. What is on my mind has everything to do with the hire-ability and sustainability of your students and trainees. One of the key concepts of Clinical Pastoral Education is self-awareness. Dr. D. James Stapleford was my CPE Supervisor and he did a thorough job on this topic. He introduced the concept in Unit 1, emphasized it more in Unit 2, made a spectacle of it in Unit 3, and completed the process in Unit 4. What I am saying is simple; self-awareness is the coin of Hospice Chaplaincy. If a Chaplain is not applying his education in self-awareness, I can assure you his time working as a Hospice Chaplain will be short. There are several venues a Hospice Chaplain will work in: homes, long-term care facilities, hospice houses, and hospital units. Each has its own unique politic. The self-aware CPE trained Chaplain should be able to read a room, sense what his or her surroundings are saying, recognize the question behind the question, skillfully apply spiritual comfort, and work with the staff at each location. It may not be something you like to hear, but I have observed among a growing number of new Hospice Chaplains that there is a glaring absence of self-awareness. Therefore, I urge you to re-double your efforts to provide extended education on this key element of CPE. That you may know a little about how we operate at Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc.….We require an MDiv or similar Master’s degree, 5 years of experience in a congregational setting or hospice/hospital setting, and 3 Units of CPE. Our expectations of our Chaplains are high. We are happy to hire a new-to-hospice Chaplain and equip them to do great work. While I am aware that each CPE student/trainee comes to the table with their own box of rocks, the impact of their past and liabilities of their personalities must be addressed effectively in CPE. If this offends you, I apologize. If this moves you to address this topic more thoroughly then I am delighted. What is at stake is effective spiritual support for dying patients and their families.

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