Chaplains fill a unique professional role in the healthcare setting, especially at Adventist Health where our mission is founded on the teachings of Jesus and is a contemporary expression of his healing ministry. Chaplains bear the torch of hope for patients and loved ones in their darkest and scariest times and offer a place for connection where they provide care for the whole person — mind, body and spirit.
“Traditional hospital chaplaincy was done by people who had some spiritual background,” explains Leo Zakhariya, Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor at Adventist Health Portland. “These caregivers were retired ministers who were elders or deacons or laypeople who believed in God, and they would come and pray with the patients, read the Bible, sing, and support them.”
Today, chaplains do much more than provide religious rites, ceremonies, prayers, and wisdom. They are specially trained to bring clinical considerations and pastoral conversations together as part of a team delivering compassionate and wholistic care. The rigorous training required of chaplains with Adventist Health is called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).
“The mindset behind Clinical Pastoral Education is to develop a clinical identity alongside a pastoral identity,” Zakhariya says. “As a clinical chaplain you analyze each interaction with patients until you develop a clinical mindset focused on best outcomes. This is what makes the difference between traditional chaplaincy and clinically informed chaplaincy.”
Today, chaplains do much more than provide religious rites, ceremonies, prayers, and wisdom. They are specially trained to bring clinical considerations and pastoral conversations together as part of a team delivering compassionate and wholistic care.
The purpose of the CPE program is to prepare the candidate for pastoral work in the clinical setting, and it covers competencies like spiritual care and support, self-reflection, professional identity, and organizational leadership. Each unit of CPE involves 400 hours of classwork and clinical work. Certification – which is required of all full-time chaplains within two years of being employed with Adventist Health – requires four units of CPE and 2,000 hours of clinical work.
Sandraneta Hall is a chaplain at Adventist Health Portland. She says the CPE program transformed how she relates to herself and then focused on improving how she connects with others.
“I love the mission of our hospital — living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope — and CPE helped me to better fulfill that mission by developing the skill sets I need to connect with people very quickly,” Sandraneta says.
Sandraneta shares that since completing the training, she is more accepting of people and has a clearer understanding of what it means to love others.
“I’m willing to take people wherever they come from,” says Sandraneta. “I’m here to be with them and walk beside them as they’re going through their challenges, and their joys. My job is to love, and CPE has taught me — and is continuing to teach me — how to love in a way that I understand God loves me and wants me to love other people,” Sandraneta adds. “He’s expanding my heart through this process. It is transformative, life-transformative.”
You can enjoy an in-depth conversation with Leo Zakhariya and Sandraneta Hall hosted by Chief Culture Officer Joyce Newmyer in the Dec. 2 episode of Connect Live.