Since the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother established their first hospitals in the 1890s, there has been a commitment to tending to the spiritual aspects of life as part of the healing process.
That commitment remains strong today, and is one of the reasons that Ministry Health Care, founded by the Sisters, has started an accredited Clinical Pastoral Education program.
The mission of the program is to foster experience-based theological education which combines the practice of spiritual care with qualified supervision and peer group reflection. It prepares persons for specialized spiritual health care ministries, as well as enhancing the many and varied community-based ministries of its students.
According to Michael Adamson, Ministry’s director of Spiritual Services, it’s a win-win situation.
“This program allows us to strengthen the clinical skills of those providing spiritual care in our facilities, thereby promoting excellence in practice to assure quality patient and family care,” said Adamson, also Ministry’s director of mission services. “This is especially true for our smaller facilities that rely heavily on area clergy and others to provide much of the on-call chaplain coverage. It also helps ensure that we have clinically qualified candidates within our region to fill vacancies as they occur within Spiritual Services.”
For the students, it encourages personal and professional development which could lead to board certification. “And, it strengthens our relationship with the churches in the area, as we provide the clinical training required by many denominations for their clergy,” Adamson added.
The 17-week program, which started in January, has six students from various denominations, from throughout north central Wisconsin. The students spend half of their 16 to 18 hours a week providing pastoral services in Ministry Health Care facilities, with assigned clinical coordinators acting as mentors. During a weekly six-hour classroom portion, held at Saint Clare’s Hospital, they meet with an Association of Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor to share and discuss their pastoral encounters.
For one of the students, Amanda Sampey, of Mosinee, the program has provided her with tremendous spiritual growth. Sampey is an ad executive with WAOW TV-9 weekdays, and intern chaplain at Saint Clare’s Hospital on weekends. She has been studying to be a deacon in the Episcopal church for the past four years.
“We have a wonderfully diverse group in the class and all come here for different reasons. That really adds to the experience,” Sampey said. “As spiritual caregivers this setting is priceless because we go out and visit with people in crisis, and then can come back to the table and evaluate how we dealt with those people. We do verbatim of conversations we’ve had with patients and families, whether it be in hospice, or with a concern of dying, or facing surgery. We then do a theological reflection, and it goes around the room as to what we could have done differently. It often gets very intense. When someone is facing life or death issues, it’s critical that we can journey with them and offer comfort and spiritual support.”
Chaplains bring the healing presence of Jesus to patients, family and staff,” said Adamson. “It is important for Ministry to provide that spiritual comfort when needed. We have committed to sponsoring at least two Clinical Pastoral Education sessions this first year and are hoping to continue the program to help individuals get the clinical training they need to become chaplains.”