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What is the deadline for applications?

Applications are accepted and reviewed beginning in January each year for the programs that start that calendar year. Admissions are on a rolling basis and continue until all slots are filled.

What are the minimum requirements?

Internship: The minimum requirement for the internship program is a high school diploma, GED, or ordination from an appropriate religious authority. Students with college degree will be given preference. Lancaster General Health is a tobacco-free facility. Interns must have a flexible enough schedule to accommodate a minimum of 10-12 clinical hours/week, including evening/overnight and weekend and holiday shifts.

Residency: The residency program builds upon a previous unit of CPE from any accredited CPE program, so satisfactory completion of a previous unit is required for admission. The residency program also requires Master’s level theological courses from an accredited graduate school or seminary. A theological Master’s degree is preferred. Lancaster General Health is a tobacco-free facility. Residents are paid employees of Lancaster General Health and must be available to cover multiple shifts including evening/overnight, weekend and holiday shifts.

What are the program dates?

The residency program begins in August and ends in the August of the following year.

The internship program begins in October and ends in April.

What is a typical student profile?

CPE students come from many different walks of life, with a wide variety of life experiences and goals for their CPE experience. Some students know the type of ministry they plan to pursue and view CPE as preparation. Others are exploring ministry options and utilize CPE to clarify their call. Still others avail themselves of our training to enhance their current ministry, or as a prerequisite for ordination. However diverse they may be in other ways, students have a common goal: To enter into an intense and practical learning experience in a small group setting.

Student range in age from mid-20s to the mid-70s, although there are no age limits. Currently, women comprise about 60% of the student population, and men, 40%.

Most of our students come from a Christian framework (approximately 20 denominations). All faith traditions are welcome. About 50% of our interns are seminarians and 25% are seminary graduates engaged in professional ministry in congregations or institutions. The remaining quarter are lay people, who work as nurses, counselors, teachers, homemakers, and in other professions.

What is the typical student experience?

Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members, and hospital staff. Their goal is to meet people where they are and help them draw upon their spiritual resources. While each person's experience is unique and somewhat unpredictable, the following are typical responsibilities of our chaplains and what students will experience.

  • Respond to trauma calls in the emergency department. Contact family or friends of the patient and provide support during the initial treatment time.
  • Respond to other emergent situations including Code Blues and stroke alerts.
  • Respond to visit requests from patients, and referrals from clinical staff.
  • Support families and offer spiritual support during times of grief and uncertainty.

What kind of jobs are available after completing the program?

Combined with seminary, CPE is part of the preparation for pastoral ministry in a congregation. At least four units of CPE and a master’s degree in theology can lead to certification and employment as a chaplain.

Lay people integrate their CPE training into playing a more active role in congregations or to be more attune to the spiritual needs in their professions. Some alumni have served as Stephen’s ministers, Eucharistic ministers, or lay hospital visitors. Others have used their training to enhance their nursing, counseling, or teaching careers.

Are international students eligible?

Lancaster General Health’s CPE program does not accept international applicants due to the complexity and uncertainty of the visa process.

What does a typical week look like?

Interns spend a half-day in the classroom, and 10-12 hours doing clinical each week. Education continues with assigned readings and written responses to both those reading and internal reflections. After the first month of intense training and observation, and working with the full care team, interns respond to in-room consult requests as well as traumas and other emergency needs. Every visit is documented. Each day is different and can involve ministering to patients, families, and staff who present in a variety of emotional and physical states.

Residents spend two half-days in a classroom setting and work a full time schedule. Education continues with assigned readings and written responses to both those reading and internal reflections. Because residents have at least one previous unit of CPE, they begin their chaplain duties during their first month. Residents respond to in-room consult requests as well as traumas and other emergent situations, working with the full care team to meet the needs of the patient. Some residents focus on a specialty, such as cancer, palliative or maternity. Every visit is documented. Each day is different and can involve ministering to patients, families, and staff who present in a variety of emotional and physical states.

All students and chaplains are expected to work across all departments including: emergency department; intensive care; cancer unit; cardiac unit. Chaplains serve patients, families and staff from a wide variety of spiritual, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
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