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. 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 ages range from the 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.
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 visit requests from patients and referrals from clinical staff.
- Support families and offer spiritual support during times of grief and uncertainty.
- Respond to trauma calls in the emergency department. Contact family or friends of the patient and provide support during the initial treatment time.
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 utilize their CPE training to play more active roles in congregations or 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.