About Our Clinical Pastoral Education Program
Baptist Health System has one of the most widely respected Clinical Pastoral Education programs in the United States. Since its inception 49 years ago, more than 800 ministers and lay-persons from Alabama, across the country, and around the world have been trained at BHS. These students are serving as many of the hospital chaplains in Alabama and in churches, hospitals, and hospices around the country.
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Baptist Health System is designed to assist individuals in learning to use their uniqueness as persons effectively in their professional role as pastors. Through pastoral responsibilities in the hospital, CPE residents and students are involved in seeking to develop a greater understanding of human personality, behavior, and spirituality to the end that faith and religious attitudes may be made more relevant to life.
Baptist Health System was the first to offer Clinical Pastoral Education in the state of Alabama. The various experiences in clinical learning offered at Baptist Health System for theological students and ministers are:
A summer unit (June to August) designed for seminarians and parish pastors who wish to pursue study in pastoral care at some depth. This eleven-week program is the basic credit unit for further clinical pastoral education.
An extended unit designed for lay people, seminary students, and active clergy. This unit of training one day per week of educational seminars and 300 negotiated clinical hours which include 2 on-calls per month over a twenty-week period.
A residency year (August to August) designed for those who wish to study pastoral care, the specific emotional and spiritual dynamics of various illnesses, mental illness, theological reflection on experience, and ministerial identity at greater depth.
Additional training beyond the full residency year may be offered to students who wish to pursue pastoral care specialization or training to become a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor.
The emphasis of Clinical Pastoral Education training is on the nature, meaning, and function of pastoral care. Students learn to integrate their theological expertise with pertinent knowledge from the behavioral sciences. Development of the pastoral function also includes an understanding of other disciplines within the medical team. Our basic concern is to develop sensitivity, new skills, and a growing identity of the minister in order to increase one's personal effectiveness.
All students participate in lecture-seminars, verbatim seminars, personal conferences with supervisors, identity and personal concerns seminars, worship, and reading assignments. Though the learning setting is a medical center, the skills and information gained are designed to aid the clergy in the total task of the minister.
To the task and challenge of Clinical Pastoral Education in Baptist Health System, we welcome you. We promise you an experience that will leave you indelibly marked and a period of provocative interpersonal, theological, and pastoral study.