A Publication of WTVP

CPE is a process in which student care providers are taught to effectively attend to the emotional and spiritual needs of others.

When healthcare education comes to mind, most people probably think of a doctor’s or nurse’s training. Learning how to physically care for patients is essential, but so, too, is learning how to provide emotional and spiritual care.

OSF Saint Francis Medical Center has created a Clinical Pastoral Education program (CPE) which will allow it to enhance and expand the OSF mission to serve with the greatest care and love. The CPE program will offer invaluable training for those who want to work with people of all ages who are coping with a life-changing situation, particularly those related to their health.

The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis worked with the Pastoral Care team at OSF Saint Francis for several years to bring the CPE program to mission partners (employees) and others. Rev. Vernon McNear was brought to Peoria to create and supervise the program. He is a board-certified chaplain with previous experience establishing a CPE program in Huntington, West Virginia.

Clinical Pastoral Education
Students in CPE perform a variety of functions within the healthcare field, including visiting critically ill patients, counseling a grieving family or offering perspective with an ethical dilemma. “It’s a theological education for people who are interested in knowing how to better give care for other people,” says Rev. McNear. “What it does is help people connect. It’s an exploration of the self and how to use the self in ministry.”

Clinical Pastoral Education students are active both inside and outside the classroom. One “unit” of CPE consists of 300 hours of clinical time, where interns and residents visit with patients, plus 100 hours of classroom and individual education. It’s a mix of one-on-one supervision, group process work, instruction and writing. The students will minister to individuals, families and small groups of people as pastoral care providers. This generally occurs at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, but may be done in any setting in which an individual ministers to people.

A full-time student can fulfill the requirements in about 10 weeks, plus a one-week orientation. A part-time intern would expect to meet these requirements in about 30 weeks. Students are also expected to take on-call shifts at the medical center during their training.

“People who need care—and most of us need care at some time in our lives—know if you’re not being authentic and if you don’t have integrity,” notes Rev. McNear. “We try to help the CPE trainees get in touch with themselves so they can be authentic—so that they can offer empathy, and it doesn’t look artificial. CPE helps them to do that.”

CPE Opportunities
“Normally, people who do CPE are priests, deacons, sisters, pastors or seminarians,” says Rev. McNear, “but it can also be people who just want to learn how to better give care to others.” OSF offers three CPE opportunities, including a current opening in a residency that allows community clergy and qualified laypersons to take four units of CPE during a 12-month period. This is a full-time position within OSF Saint Francis that includes a stipend and other employee benefits.

Questions about the application process or the program in general can be directed to Rev. Vernon McNear at [email protected] or (309) 655-6470. Learn more at iBi

Meredith Rashid is an intern at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.