FAQs

  • What is Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) ?
    CPE is experience-based theological education and pastoral formation for seminarians, clergy and lay persons of diverse cultures, ethnic groups and faith traditions. In CPE you join other women and men who are currently in ministry or are preparing for it. Some may be healthcare professionals who come to CPE to enhance their work pastorally. Most are Christian, but CPE welcomes qualified persons across faith traditions.
  • What does clinical mean in CPE?
    First of all, clinical describes the basic methodology of CPE: reflecting on experience. You may call it process education; you begin with experience, reflect on it, and act. “What did you learn?” is a common question in CPE. Secondly, clinical refers to your ministry site, which is usually Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, with some possibly at your own place of ministry. At your clinical site you provide pastoral care, which is a key component of your learning.
  • Is the CPE program accredited?

    CPE at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital has been accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) since 1991, making Ascension St. Vincent Hospital one of nearly 450 ACPE-accredited CPE centers in the United States. The Ascension St. Vincent Hospital CPE program is accredited to offer Level I and Level II CPE as well as Supervisory CPE.

    Professional accrediting body:

    ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education 
    55 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Suite 835
    Atlanta, GA 30308
    Tel: 404-320-1472 
    Web: www.acpe.edu

    The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc., in turn, is nationally recognized as an accrediting agency in the field of clinical pastoral education by the U.S. Secretary of Education through the U.S. Department of Education.

  • What is a unit of CPE?
    According to ACPE Standards, a unit of CPE is at least 100 hours of structured group and individual education. Each unit shall be accompanied by the supervised, clinical practice in ministry. The combined time shall be no less than 400 hours.
  • What is meant by structured group and individual education?
    Within any unit of Level I/Level II CPE you will be part of a peer group (minimum of three but usually more) who learn from case studies, critique and feedback on your practice of ministry. Peer groups also critique each other’s verbatims, which are word-by-word reviews of a pastoral encounter. You work with a qualified supervisor who is first and foremost a pastoral educator, a companion in your own pastoral formation process. This supervisor has pastoral experience and a master’s of Divinity or the equivalent. By certifying as an ACPE Certified Educator, he/she has also pursued approximately four-five years of post-graduate work.
  • What is individual supervision?
    Each CPE student meets regularly with his/her ACPE Certified Educator for about an hour during which they discuss ministry events, personal issues, theological questions, peer relationships, or any other experiences that might have an impact on the student’s practice of ministry and/or their pastoral identity.
  • What kinds of CPE programs does Ascension St. Vincent Hospital offer?
    The program is nationally accredited to offer Level I - II and Supervisory CPE:

    Level I CPE – addresses the fundamentals of pastoral formation, pastoral competence and pastoral formation through one or more CPE units. Satisfactory achievement of Level I outcomes is a prerequisite for doing Level II CPE.

    Level II CPE – addresses the development and integration of pastoral formation, pastoral competence and pastoral reflection to a level of competence that permits participants to pursue professional certification as a chaplain and/or admission to Supervisory CPE.

    Supervisory CPE – is designed to see the participant through to Associate ACPE Certified Educator status. The program accepts persons who have demonstrated pastoral, professional and clinical competence, and develops in them competence in the art, theory and practice of supervision of clinical pastoral education.
  • In what formats does Ascension St. Vincent Hospital offer CPE?
    The Ascension St. Vincent Hospital program offers CPE in four formats:
    • Extended unit, part-time over five months, designed primarily for persons exploring CPE as a possibility, seeking ordination in their denomination, desiring to hone their pastoral skills. One unit CPE.
    • Summer unit, fulltime over 11 weeks, designed primarily for persons seeking ordination in their denomination, but not limited to seminarians. One unit CPE.
    • Residency, 12-month, fulltime program, designed for persons preparing to become board certified chaplains or planning to pursue supervisory education. Four units of CPE.
    • Supervisory Education, a two-to-three-year fulltime program through certification as Associate Supervisor.

    Ascension St. Vincent Hospital also offers off-site programs in places where an interest in CPE and a related need exist and when supervisory personnel are available. In these cases, the calendar is tailored to the situation while honoring professional standards.

  • What is the Extended Unit CPE program?
    Your CPE group work is one day a week, about six hours. Your clinical hours can usually be scheduled to accommodate your other responsibilities. For this five-month program plan on 15-16 hours weekly of clinical work, usually sometime Monday through Friday 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. when staff chaplains are available for mentoring. Every week you will also have one hour of individual supervision with your ACPE Certified Educator.
  • What is the Summer CPE program?
    This is a fulltime 11-week program. Group, clinical work and individual supervision will be Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. You would also have six (6) overnight and/or weekend shifts, during which time you would provide pastoral care throughout the hospital.
  • What is the Residency CPE program?
    The Residency is a 12-month, fulltime program. Group and clinical work and individual supervision will be Mondays through Fridays, 8a.m.-4:30 p.m. You also have regular (usually weekly) overnight and/or weekend shifts.

    Pre-requisites for entering the residency are (a) a graduate theological degree or sufficient progress toward it that you could be certified as a chaplain within 24 months of completing the residency; and (b) one previous unit of CPE.
  • How many positions are in the CPE Residency program?
    The program has five (5) stampeded residency positions.
  • Is an on-site interview required for a CPE Residency?
    An on-site interview is not required, but is highly recommended for CPE residency. Our experience is that it serves the applicant and the center best, when an on-site interview is conducted. In addition to interviewing with the ACPE Certified Educators and other professionals, applicants will have an opportunity to talk with a current Resident and have a tour of Ascension St. Vincent Hospital so that they can make an informed decision.
  • Do I need to be ordained to be considered for a CPE Residency?
    Ordination is not required. Because Clinical Pastoral Education is post-graduate education, successful applicants will have completed a bachelor’s degree, and preferably a master’s degree (Theology, Pastoral Ministry, Divinity) or some program which will allow them to become board-certified as a Chaplain within at least 24 months of completing the Residency and/or will allow them to enter supervisory education. For all CPE programs, the Center looks for applicants who are active and rooted in their faith tradition and who have been in service in some way in their local faith community.
  • Do you accept international applicants in the residency program?
    We will accept international applications from persons who have resided in the U.S. for at least one year prior to the application and who have completed at least one unit of ACPE CPE. The process of securing a visa and meeting other requirements takes a long time.
  • Do you offer a second-year Residency?
    We do not currently offer a second-year residency. You may be able to find an offering through the ACPE website, www.acpe.edu.
  • What is the Supervisory CPE program?
    At Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, persons in Supervisory CPE also have staff chaplain responsibilities. The curriculum is two years in length with a third year negotiable, designed to see participants through to Associate Supervisor status. Supervisory education students participate in a peer group with supervisory education students and ACPE Certified Educators from the IU program.

    Pre-requisites for entering supervisory education are a post-graduate theological degree (Master’s of Divinity or the equivalent), successful completion of CPE Level II outcomes, and denominational endorsement. Within the first months of supervisory CPE, if not before, the applicant participates in an ACPE-sponsored consultation for readiness for Supervisory CPE.
  • Do you have any opening in your Supervisory Education Program (SES program) ?
    Contact the CPE Manager at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital (317-338-9874) about openings. You may also want to check the ACPE website, www.acpe.edu.
  • What kind of orientation do I receive if I do CPE at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital?
    Allow five (5) full days at the beginning of any of the programs. You will be oriented to Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, to CPE, and to your clinical site and unit. You will also learn to use the electronic medical record. On your clinical unit, you will also have an on-site preceptor, one of the staff chaplains.
  • What is the cost of doing CPE at your center?
    Tuition for each of the four units of the CPE Residency is $150.00, or a total of $600.00 for the year. Tuition for extended and summer units is $500.
  • Is there a stipend for CPE at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital?
    For the summer and the extended unit there is no stipend. The CPE Residency pays a stipend. subject to state and federal withholdings. CPE residents also receive benefits at the same rates as other Ascension St. Vincent Hospital associates.
  • Do you have any scholarships available?
    Modest financial assistance is available for interns who will incur added expenses or need to reduce their work hours to take a unit of CPE. For more information, please speak with Sean Doll O'Mahoney, CPE Manager, at 317-338-9874.
  • How can I learn more about chaplain certification?
    The following websites provide information that can be downloaded:

    Association for Professional Chaplains (APC) www.professionalchaplains.org

    National Association for Catholic Chaplains (NACC) www.nacc.org

    Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) www.najc.org
  • How can I learn more about supervisory certification?
    Information can be downloaded from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) website at www.acpe.edu.
  • How do I apply for CPE at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital?

    You can download an application and directions from this website or from www.acpe.edu, the website of Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). Mail your completed form with attachments to:

    Ascension St. Vincent Hospital CPE Program
    Spiritual Care Department
    2001 W. 86th Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46260
    Phone: 317.338.9874
    Fax: 317.338.2987
    Email: sean.o’mahoney@ascension.org

    When your application has been received and reviewed, you will be contacted for an interview to

    • Explore further what you have written in your application materials
    • Answer your questions about CPE and specifically about the program at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital.
    • Discern whether this program is a good fit for your learning interests.
  • Will you accept my application electronically?
    Yes, we will. Please address the application to sean.o’mahoney@ascension.org
  • Where do participants in the CPE program do their clinical work?

    Usually participants in the extended or summer unit and the residency do their clinical work at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, which is a rich environment for learning. When CPE Residents and Interns are on call at night or on the weekend, they may also be called to

    • Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital – women and children
    • Ascension St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital – acute rehab
    • Ascension St. Vincent Stress Center – behavioral health and substance abuse
    • Ascension St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana
    • Ascension St. Vincent Carmel Hospital– general hospital
  • Can I do some of my clinical work at a place other than the hospital?
    At times it is possible to do some of the clinical hours at a place other than the hospital, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include a site agreement, on-site mentoring by a qualified individual(s), and visits of the ACPE Certified Educator to the site. The details of such an arrangement are individualized to the situation.
  • Do you provide housing for CPE participants?
    The Ascension St. Vincent Hospital CPE program itself does not have housing, but we will work with a person to identify area possibilities
  • I am interested in chaplaincy certification but want to do it through NACC. Would your program help me?
    The CPE curriculum at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital is designed with both APC and NACC Standards in mind, as well as those of the accrediting body, ACPE. When you successfully complete a residency at this center, you will have the CPE units, which are required for certification. Alumni of the program have successfully achieved both NACC and APC chaplain certification.
  • Are there chaplain jobs?
    As in most fields, the answer is mixed. If you are willing to relocate, you will have more possibilities. People who complete the Ascension St. Vincent Hospital residency program have a good track record on employment.
  • Are supervisory positions available?
    Very definitely, but you may have to relocate. Currently in the United States there are more supervisory openings than there are available supervisors. In addition, according to an ACPE 2006 survey, about 50 percent of the ACPE Certified Educators in the United States are over 5
  • Where do I mail my CPE application?
    Please mail application to: Sean Doll O'Mahoney, CPE Manager, 2001 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46260.