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HCCN Network

From the desk of
The President and Chief Executive Officer
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network
Spiritual Care Association




HealthCare Chaplaincy Network
Clinical Pastoral Education Program
January 4, 2018


In a speech1 given in April, 2016, Rev. Eric J. Hall, President of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN), announced the founding of its affiliate, the Spiritual Care Association (SCA). In doing so, he cited a strong demand signal from prominent leaders in the U.S. health care chaplaincy movement including Wendy Cadge, George Fitchett, Kevin Massey and Alexander Tartaglia for major changes in the way health care chaplains are educated and the ways that education was evaluated, particularly in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)(2,3,4). This announcement was followed by a more detailed white paper5, Time to Move Forward: Creating a New Model of Spiritual Care to Enhance the Delivery of Outcomes and Value in Health Care Settings, which presented and discussed the barriers impeding the full integration of spiritual care and chaplaincy care in health care and recommendations to remove them.

Rev. Hall’s 2016 observations on the lack of standardization and measurement of outcomes are not new. Acknowledged pioneers and later leaders of the clinical pastoral education movement have been calling for these changes for sixty years. As early as 1958, John Thomas called for the field to “better measure the effectiveness of clinical pastoral training so we have more objective standards”6. Some years later, Clark Aist wrote:

“Do we emphasize the self-development of the student for general ministry? Or do we focus on the acquisition of specific competencies for ministry that might be utilized in specialized settings? Should our educational programs themselves have built-in closure points, or do the various types of certification offered by cognate groups offer a sufficient closing process? And what about the thorny issue of curriculum content? Not only how we teach, but what we teach."

“Our subjective intuitions have by and large served us well in certification, but there is growing recognition of the need to make the process more objective and to more clearly specify the levels of knowledge and skill that the candidate must acquire."7

The last year has brought a myriad of chaplains to the SCA asking how and when they can be reimbursed by payers including Medicare for the care they provide. Before they will reimburse for interventions, or include chaplaincy in a reimbursement model, any payer will surely require that the provider of such interventions demonstrate that they are delivering high value quality care. This goal can only be successfully met when provider preparation, education, experience and clinical care competency are demonstrated in a standardized and measureable way. This demonstration and measurement is not possible in the historical method and model of professional chaplaincy training and certification that is still widely used.

This lack of standardization in order to demonstrate chaplain’s value and quality-based care is the most significant barrier currently facing the field of professional chaplaincy. However, it is an obstacle that is already being overcome through the work and contributions of the SCA. The current objective competency testing established and provided by the SCA shows significant deficiencies in knowledge and competency among current professional chaplains, including critical areas such as communication skills, HIPAA compliance, spiritual assessment and appropriate documentation among others. Inadequacies such as these should not exist at all in chaplaincy and spiritual care and must be addressed across the profession. The SCA is the only organization in the U.S. that is actively working to address this to improve the knowledge, skills, competency, and evidence-based practice of chaplains.

HCCN constantly strives to move the field of health care chaplaincy forward, responding to the challenges posed by its past and present leaders, and improving the spiritual care of patients and caregivers. As soon as it was permitted by its accreditation, HCCN enthusiastically adopted and rolled out newly adopted standards that, for the first time, allowed for virtual CPE. This program has been tremendously successful from the students' point of view as well as providing benefit to the patients and families to whom they provide care. As expected with any new effort, however, the standards and methods to meet them have raised concerns that need to be addressed to make them more effective in meeting educational standards, student needs, and the care of patients and families. To that end, HCCN has committed to address the shortcomings of the model for virtual CPE and better align all methods and settings of chaplaincy training with the current demands of U.S. health care for the benefit of both students and patients.

In order to achieve these goals, HCCN will transition its CPE program to the Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training (ICPT) as its accrediting body. ICPT has emerged as a creative and innovative organization within health care chaplaincy in the U.S. It has sought to implement many of the educational goals that chaplaincy leaders have called for and is committed to moving the field forward.

ICPT is a candidate to receive Department of Education accreditation. As the Spiritual Care Association is the only professional chaplaincy organization in the U.S. that has a program that includes evidence-based standardized curriculum, verified knowledge, and demonstrated competence, ICPT is working closely with SCA to incorporate these essential components into the traditional CPE experience of formation, self-growth, and group communication. In addition, ICPT and the SCA are exploring other standardizations including methods of spiritual assessment, documentation, taxonomy, interventions and other quality indicators essential to chaplaincy care. Most importantly, all students will participate in objective testing assuring core knowledge has been verified and the student is properly prepared to provide clinical care. This model is better quality, based on evidence, and will cost less for the student.

All who have been in the field of chaplaincy care or have had oversight of chaplaincy departments understand that the system of education, preparation, testing and certification is long overdue for this change. We support current systems because of what they are historically with a clear sense they are not what we need for the future. Numerous institutions unknowingly cite them as a requirement for training without the full knowledge of the inadequacies they present, while many of us have simply followed the path of what is and has been politically expedient. However, a new opportunity and challenge has now come requesting our attention.

Many institutions and individuals are now choosing to follow a new path and model of chaplaincy education which leads to professional certification that provides the highest quality and value of care delivery for patients, caregivers and health systems in every setting. The time to move forward without hesitation is now.

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network and the Spiritual Care Association have taken the steps required to be the leaders of change that the pioneers of chaplaincy and decades of leaders called and hoped for. We are committed to preparing and empowering chaplains to provide high value and quality spiritual care to patients.

Accordingly, effective as of June, 2018, allowing current students to fulfill what they have struggled and scheduled to do, HCCN CPE units will be accredited solely by the Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training.



1President’s Speech. Caring for the Human Spirit® Conference. San Diego, California. April 11. 2016. http://bit.ly/2lPm95Q

2Cadge W. Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine. 2012. Chicago, IL. The University of Chicago Press. http://bit.ly/2E0yHOn

3Massey K. Surfing through a Sea Change: The Coming Transformation of Chaplaincy Training. 2014. Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry. 34. 144-152. http://bit.ly/2CNkPYy

4Fitchett G, Tartaglia A, Massey K, Jackson-Jordon B, Derrickson P. 2015. Education for Professional Chaplains: Should Certification Competencies Shape Curriculum? J HealthCare Chaplaincy. 21:4. http://bit.ly/2lQCvdB

5Time to Move Forward: Creating a New Model of Spiritual Care to Enhance the Delivery of Outcomes and Value in Health Care Settings. 2016. HealthCare Chaplaincy Network. http://bit.ly/2lSnsQy

6Thomas J. Evaluations of Clinical Pastoral Training and “Part-Time” Training in a General Hospital. 1958. J Pastoral Care. 12:1. 28-38. http://journals.sagepub.com/home/pcc (archived)

7Aist C. Standards: A View from the Past and Prospects for the Future. 1983. J Pastoral Care. 27:1. 6067. http://bit.ly/2E2py85

December 2017  Issue No. 28


Spiritual Care Association (SCA) visits Capitol Hill
Spiritual Care Association (SCA) President and CEO Rev. Eric J. Hall visited Capitol Hill on Tues, Dec. 12, 2017, where he met with key members of Congress to expand access to quality spiritual care.
Wholeness of Life Gala 2017 Community Honorees
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™ hosted its annual Wholeness of Life Gala on Thurs, Nov. 16, 2017, at Guastavino's in New York City. Each year, the organization recognizes men and women who dedicate their lives to the spiritual care field in their community. This year, HCCN honored seven individuals.

Palliative Care

Canada passes end-of-life health care bill
On Tues, Dec. 12, 2017, Canada passed Bill C-277, more popularly known as the "Framework on Palliative Care in Canada Act."  It will grant people the option of quality end-of-life care. (CBC News) 
Introducing palliative care to developing nations
Nearly 25 million people die each year in low-to-middle-income countries due to lack of painkillers. A study by The Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief found that the large contrast could be the catalyst to introducing palliative care to developing nations. (The New York Times)

Spiritual Care

The future of spiritual care
Times are changing, which could be good or bad for chaplains. On one hand, only half of American adults attend religious services, but more people claim to be more spiritual today than ever. What does this mean for those in the spiritual care field?  (HuffPost) 

Obtain one full day of education before the start of the Conference with our 
Pre-Conference Intensives on Sunday, April 22.


Adventure sports to assist in spirituality
It is well known that having a connection with nature aids in a person's spirituality. A look at how adventure sports brings one closer to their enlightenment. (Daily Pioneer)

End-of-Life Care

The holidays may be the best time to discuss end-of-life care

Think about it: you may only see certain family members around the holidays. According to Hospice of Cincinnati, this may be the ideal time to have "the talk" about end-of-life care. (Cincinnati.com)

Health Report
The health effects of social isolation and loneliness

Social isolation and loneliness are not necessarily related; however, they both have an effect on a person's health that is quite surprising. (The New York Times)

Good Reads

Managing depression during the holidays

It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed - which can lead to depression - over the holidays. Whether it be the various activities going on, purchasing holiday presents or the possible meal at the home of loved ones, all of this can generate stress. Learn how to control it. (Forbes)

Not only Santa can spread holiday joy

Each year, an anonymous businessman gives thousands of dollars to strangers around the country. This year, this "Secret Santa" visited areas of Texas where the effects of the hurricane is still being felt. (WTKR.com)

Read more


Our 2017-2018 Accomplishments and Outlook: Creating the New World of Spiritual Care is now available online!  

Dear Franklin,
We are living in unsettled times.
A quick Internet search on the prevalence of fear and worry in America today will yield broad coverage of the subject and the issues driving this widespread apprehension. From just a brief sampling:
  • “Why Americans are More Afraid than They Used to Be” (Time Magazine)
  • “Mass Shootings and Trauma: In a World that No Longer Feels Safe, How Do We Cope?” (USA Today)
  • “We're Living in the Age of Fear” (Rolling Stone Magazine)
  • “Americans are More Fearful of Terrorism than at Any Other Time since 9/11” (Time Magazine)
Americans are unsure about the safety of their families, finances, and communities. At the same time, many are facing life-altering situations of their own that can include their or a family member’s health crisis, loss of a loved one, troubled relationships, and isolation due to age, illness or any number of factors in their personal lives.
Someone to Talk To 
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network hears from people every day who are struggling to face the fear in their own lives, or hoping to help another who is suffering from illness, addiction, depression, or other difficulties that challenge us to our core. Our line is open to people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and worldviews, and is not restricted to addressing one particular type of problem.
HCCN offers a place to turn for anyone seeking support, understanding, and an end to isolation that is sometimes fueled by fear or despair. Our chaplains offer person-to-person care at numerous hospitals and outpatient facilities in New York and beyond. And, via phone, email or video call, people are reaching out to our helpline – called Chat with a Chaplain or Chat with a Counselor – for connection, relief and a way forward.
Why Chaplains?
Misunderstanding continues to this day about what chaplains do. Dispelling this misunderstanding is critically important, especially given the unique set of skills that chaplains bring to their work. A chaplain can be part of any faith tradition, or no faith tradition. She or he may be a clergy member, but even chaplains who are clergy are specifically trained – through both academic work and a clinical residency – to address the emotional, existential and spiritual needs of anyone who seeks help, regardless of that person’s faith, or lack thereof. Proselytizing is not under the chaplain’s purview. Chaplaincy care is open to all, without exception.    
In this complete openness and compassionate understanding that all faiths – whether of organized traditions or individually-held – connect with each other in our spiritual depths, chaplaincy is a profession that can bring healing in these times of fear, hurtful rhetoric and division.  
Reaching More People at Times of Deepest Need
At HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, we are working to make a greater difference in this world of ever-increasing need – to reach greater numbers of people in crisis with our Chat with a Chaplain or Chat with a Counselor helpline, and to provide more bedside chaplaincy services at our partner hospitals where we care for patients, families and medical staff.
Indeed, the services of our chaplains are more in demand than ever before. In 2017, we added six new hospitals to those where we provide direct chaplaincy care. Increasing numbers of nurses, social workers and doctors are looking to HealthCare Chaplaincy for education on how to address the spiritual, emotional and existential concerns of their patients – how, in other words, to care for the human spirit in conjunction with all else they do. And we are leading the way in defining and sharing best practices to ensure that this kind of care, which considers patients’ values and deepest concerns, is based on what works in relieving suffering and improving patient experience and satisfaction.   
Your year-end support will make a profound difference
in the lives of many who are facing the challenges
that can define us as human beings.
Your gift will enable HealthCare Chaplaincy Network to help individuals overcome fear, pain and isolation and work toward resolution as together we face our world, ourselves, and our potential for wholeness and happiness. 
Wishing you every blessing for a peaceful holiday season and coming year.
Rev. Eric J. Hall
President and CEO
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network


November 2017  Issue No. 27


Inaugural Spiritual Care Briefing on Capitol Hill
Entitled, "Spiritual Care: What It Means, Why It Matters in Health Care," HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) and, its affiliate, Spiritual Care Association (SCA) hosted the first meeting on Capitol Hill for United States legislators and their staff at the end of October.
Newest Evidenced-Based White Paper is Released
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network and Spiritual Care Association have released their latest white paper on the integration of spiritual care in the medical field for the role of a physician entitled "Spiritual Care and Physicians: Understanding Spirituality in Medical Practice."  This is third white paper by both organizations.

Palliative Care

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has deemed November to be National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. This year's theme is "It's about how you live." During these 30 days, uncover resources that can assist in educating and promoting the cause. (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization).

Palliative Care to aid in advanced lung cancer

The improvement of medical treatment over the past 10 years has been positive for those diagnosed with various illnesses. In a video interview, Dr. Sara F. Martin, M.D. explains the benefits that palliative care can have on the side effects of advanced lung cancer. (Cure Today)


Life satisfaction is higher for those who are spiritual
The relationship between happiness and spirituality continues.  In a recent study, evidence supports that Americans who identify as spiritual and religious or spiritual, but not religious, are more satisfied with their lives. (HuffPost)

End-of-Life Care

The best time to make end-of-life decisions

Connecticut Hospital Association created a program in 2016 called Care Decisions Connecticut to promote the quality of life for those with terminal illnesses. (New Haven Register)

Health Report
Don't be an overachiever; stay home if you are ill

For some, it is difficult to take time off work when they are not feeling well, because they do not want to seem unreliable or appear replaceable.  Not surprisingly, doctors advise to take a sick day or two, as coming to work can actually hurt others more than it may harm you. (The New York Times)

Good Reads

Remembering Veteran's Day with a Veteran, who is also a Chaplain
Veteran's Day was celebrated on Saturday. That day held special significance to Berean Rev. Joe White, who is a veteran and a chaplain at Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He explains what it means to serve those who have served.  (Richmond Register)


The Wholeness of Life Gala will take place tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 16, at Guastavino's in New York City! Learn what this event means to us.

October 2017  Issue No. 26


HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) forms partnership with New York State Chaplains Task Force (NYSCTF)
Through its affiliate, Spiritual Care Association, HCCN and NYSCTF will be working closely to heighten attention to the need for spiritual care services in their local communities and around the country.

Palliative Care

Mesothelioma patients did not respond to palliative care

Inspired by a 2010 study which led to the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommending that palliative care start early for all cancer patients, a new study shows that palliative care did not improve the quality of life on newly-diagnosed mesothelioma patients. (Medical Xpress)

Senegal improves its palliative care efforts 

A 2012 study found that 16 of out 22 countries in Francophone Africa had no healthcare providers administering palliative care. Since then, the government of Senegal has made improving access to palliative care a priority. (Human Rights Watch)

April 23-25, 2018, Sheraton New Orleans



State of the Science of Spirituality and Palliative Care Research
A two-part review, which was formulated from a conference on "State of the Science in Spirituality and Palliative Care Research," held at Duke Integrative Medicine. Part 1 addresses the current landscape of outcomes in research in palliative care, while Part 2 explores current research guiding spiritual care provisions to patients and families within palliative care. (Journal of Pain and Symptom Management)
Read more:   Intro    Part 1   Part 2
Cutting stereotypes with spiritual inclusion 
Understanding what makes us different leads us to appreciate those diversities. The Transformations Spirituality Center aims to remove inaccurate stereotypes by offering programs, performances and concerts to address current issues. (Western Herald)

Paid advertisement
To advertise with HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, contact comm@healthcarechaplaincy.org 

End-of-Life Care

Faith communities bring end-of-life care planning to the forefront

Advance care planning is still an after thought for many people. Leaders of various faith communities work hard to educate their members on the benefits of having a strategy in place. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)

Health Report
Improve your wellbeing with a healthy workplace
Because people spend the majority of their time at work, it is important to have a work environment that is healthy. A negative work space leads to poor mental and physical health, while the opposite not only promotes happiness, but productivity, too. (UN News Centre)

Empathizing too much diminishes your health

In a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, the more empathetic a person was, the more he/she experienced anxiety or low-level depression. (The Washington Post)
Read more

Good Reads

Good economy = a rise in death rates
Though the above title can be alarming, this is only in the short term. For example, in a recession, the unemployed can sleep longer, have more time to exercise and may eat more health.  Learn more of the factors for this analysis. (New York Times)


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