CHHSM Ministries Offer Valuable Clinical Pastoral Education

Alex Anklan felt called to complete his clinical pastoral education (CPE) unit at United Church HomesTrinity Community in Beavercreek, Ohio, from the moment he walked through the door.

“This is a community where people live,” says Anklan, a student who attends Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. “I can develop relationships with residents throughout the unit instead of a hospital setting, where I’d likely never see the same person again.”

Anklan is one of four students in Trinity Community’s CPE program. This is the first time that Trinity has offered CPE, which equips students to develop competency in the provision of pastoral and spiritual care.

CPE students participate in small group learning integrated into clinical ministry with residents, patients, families, and staff to meet

diverse spiritual needs. During the process, students gain a better understanding of themselves, and are prepared to provide meaningful care for others. Many seminary programs require at least one unit of CPE.

Trinity offers Level I CPE, which involves a minimum of 400 hours: 100 hours of classroom instruction, followed by 300 hours of bedside care. The community, which currently offers an 11-week full-time summer program, will also offer an extended CPE program from mid fall to mid spring. Because its program is new, Trinity is an accredited satellite site of the Sisters of Charity Health System in Cleveland. The system will serve as a host center until Trinity becomes certified as an accredited center, an anticipated three year process.

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education has accredited more than 400 CPE centers throughout the United States. Most CPE programs are provided in hospitals and health care settings, which makes Trinity’s program unique.

“Students get a diverse exposure to people in assisted living, as well as residents needing skilled nursing and memory care support,” says the Rev. Greta Wagner, Trinity’s director of pastoral care and CPE.

In addition to bedside care, Trinity interns facilitate Bible study, lead worship with residents during Sunday and weekday services and are members of the interdisciplinary health care team.

United Church Homes is not the only CHHSM member to offer pastoral education. Advocate Health Care, a network of medical centers around Chicago, also provides CPE in nine of its 10 hospitals. Several of its locations also offer a yearlong residency program for students who desire a more in-depth and specialized study.

Osofo Atta, Advocate’s director of CPE, says that CPE settings are increasingly varied today because of outpatient care.

“A lot of our education is teaching people to care in community settings,” Atta says. “We have to equip pastors with the resources to provide more care in environments such as parishes and churches.”

Wagner says CPE enriches both the lives of students and those who need care. “CPE allows us to deepen relationships and expand our service. This care has brought new life to our community.”

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