The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at UCSF is fully accredited by ACPE (the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.), which in turn is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This accreditation means that our center conducts our educational program in compliance with the ACPE’s Standards and Manuals, which you can see at www.acpe.edu. In a CPE unit of training you can expect at least 100 hours of “classroom” time for every 300 hours of direct service you provide to our patients, their loved ones, and our staff. The components of our educational program each unit are fairly similar to what you would encounter in many other ACPE-accredited centers. They include the following:
- Individual Supervision: Each unit you will work with one of our CPE faculty, with whom you will meet regularly (usually for an hour each week) to discuss your learning goals, clinical events that you have experienced, and any other personal or professional issues that affect your spiritual caregiving. That faculty member will write your final evaluation to certify your training experience. One advantage of our hospital is that we have multiple faculty (including three ACPE certified educators) on our staff, so if you are enrolled in our year-long program, you likely will have the opportunity to be supervised by more than one person during your time with us.
- Covenant Group: This is an open-agenda weekly group session in which CPE students practice receiving and offering support, clarification, and confrontation/challenge in order to develop their understandings of themselves, and to cultivate their skills in providing spiritual care and perceiving group dynamics. With ACPE certified educators and/or supervisory candidates present as facilitators, students take the initiative to ask for consultation about issues, events, and concerns that have occurred in their clinical work, their relationships with peers, their pursuit of learning goals, and in their personal lives as those affect their pastoral service.
- Didactics: These are group sessions that most closely resemble an academic classroom. Presentations and workshops are offered on a variety of topics, and at our center we arrange the sessions for CPE year-long interns in a thematic way. In the fall unit, for example, our didactics address basic pastoral care skills, cultural humility and sensitivity to power/privilege dynamics, and maintaining healthy boundaries. In the winter unit, we focus on developing self-awareness abilities through family systems theory, personality development, and learning more about spiritual assessment models. In the spring unit, our center offers didactics that concentrate on bioethics committees and working with patients and their loved ones about end-of-life issues. In the interns’ summer unit, we facilitate didactics that address issues of professional development, specializations, and transitions. For extended and summer single-unit students, the curriculum of didactic sessions will resemble the year-long interns’ fall unit.
- Verbatim Presentations: During each CPE unit, a student can expect to write between three to six verbatim reports, which are word-for-word accounts of a conversation between a chaplain and a patient, a patient’s loved one, a staff member, or even a group of people. These reports include opportunity for the student to analyze and evaluate her or his pastoral functioning and then to request assistance and consultation to hone her or his spiritual care skills. Students then present their reports in a group setting, where they can engage in conversation with peers and faculty members about their practice.
- Joint Visits: At least once with her or his assigned individual faculty member and then again with a peer during a unit of training, a student will meet with patients in her or his assigned clinical area. The student is observed while she or he offers care to others, and then the student and the observer meet privately to discuss what the chaplain did well, suggestions for how the chaplain could improve her or his caring, and other dynamics that emerged in the visits. It is not unusual for a student to feel nervous while on joint visits, but we regularly hear from students that this exercise is quite helpful because the feedback is so immediate and practical.
- Interfaith Service: Periodically during a CPE unit or year, students will take turns designing and facilitating a time of worship, meditation, or other spiritual practice for their peer group. This is an opportunity for the student to practice her or his pastoral leadership, as well as a chance for that student’s peers to learn more about the student through the lens of her or his faith tradition.
As you can see, engaging in CPE training will require much time, energy, and commitment. We hope that this information is helpful. Please feel free to contact us if you have further questions.