St. Mary's Medical Center | Huntington, WV | (304) 526-1234

Clinical Pastoral Education Center

St. Mary's CPE Center is a satellite of West Virginia University Hospitals and dually accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Commission on Certification and Accreditation (USCCB/CCA). The Center provides Level I and Level II training in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

Educational excellence is a driving force behind St. Mary’s Medical Center’s mission. St. Mary’s offers or participates in various educational programs which prepare individuals to pursue careers in medicine and health care related fields. In addition, St. Mary’s provides continuing education programs for staff members, and health and wellness programs for patients, their families, and the community in general. Training health care chaplains is one of the essential services of St. Mary’s Department of Spiritual Care, Counseling and Mission.

Educational Opportunities in St. Mary’s CPE program:

  • A year-long, intensive salaried Residency Program. Many hospitals and hospice organizations require certification for full-time employment as a chaplain. Certification includes completing four units of CPE which are offered during the residency. In addition, the chaplain certifying agencies require a masters degree in theology, pastoral studies or spirituality.
  • An intensive 11-week Intern unit in the Summer. Interns can pursue CPE for personal ministerial development, as a requirement for their seminary or ordination or as a step toward professional certification.
  • An extended 32-week Intern unit from September to May. Interns in the extended unit are individuals who want to increase their spiritual care skills, meet continuing education requirements, and/or explore chaplaincy. This unit is appropriate for people who are working or are not free for the more intensive internship or residency.

Clinical pastoral education is built upon adult- and student-centered process learning. Students focus their ministerial education by working with their supervisor and peers in articulating learning goals for each CPE unit. Midterm and final evaluations, along with other written assignments, allow each student to track his or her progress in realizing their goals.

Elements distinctive in St. Mary’s CPE program:

  • Spiritual Care chaplains serve as mentors and adjunct faculty for CPE students. Each CPE student chaplain teams with a staff chaplain and is integrated into patient care on the unit he or she serves at the medical center. The spiritual, religious and denominational/sacramental needs beneath the medical needs focus the chaplaincy care provided to patient, family and staff -- from blessing a newborn to facilitating difficult end-of-life issues.
  • Student chaplains are highly integrated in providing care in crisis situations. The student chaplain responds to every trauma, respiratory and cardiac arrest and also to every death. While on-call, student chaplains will minister to patients and families in a Level Two trauma center where victims of car crashes, falls, gang violence or industrial accidents are rushed by ambulance or helicopter. Student chaplains will daily hone their crisis ministry skills through their presence in the Emergency Room as well as the cardiac, neuro, and medical-surgical intensive care units.
  • Patient, family and staff care is why the Spiritual Care Department exists, and so the CPE program strongly emphasizes clinical care. Out of the 400 hours required for a unit of CPE, a minimum of 300 hours is for the student’s supervised clinical ministry. A minimum of 100 hours is in direct educational activities.
  • Student chaplains learn about and experience spiritual care within the hospitality of the rich Appalachian culture, the mission of a faith-based Medical Center, and the caring of an interfaith Spiritual Care Department. St. Mary’s Medical Center is a 400-bed Catholic, not-for-profit, tertiary care, teaching hospital which is guided by the mission, philosophy and values of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters. To fulfill the Medical Center’s mission, the center provides acute, skilled nursing for the Tri-State region (West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio) by offering a broad range of primary and specialty health services for inpatients, outpatients and patients in their homes. These services include the Heart Institute, Cancer Center, Neuroscience Center, Trauma Care, as well as Medical-Surgical Care.

St. Mary’s CPE program was initially accredited in 2009 as a satellite of West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, West Virginia. At that time, St. Mary’s CPE Center sought to be dually accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Commission on Certification & Accreditation (USCCB/CCA). There are very few dually accredited centers in the country.

St. Mary’s CPE program operates under the auspices of the Department of Spiritual Care, Counseling and Mission. The CPE supervisor reports to the director of the department.

Training in Ministry:

St. Mary’s CPE offers supervised clinical learning in both inpatient and outpatient settings, individualized mentoring by the staff chaplains and opportunities for working as members of interdisciplinary teams. Specialties include cardiology; oncology; ER/trauma; neurology and neurosurgery; behavioral health; and general medicine.

St. Mary’s Spiritual Care staff and student chaplains serve the diverse needs of patients, families and staff with an interfaith approach. Student chaplains learn ministerial skills to assist patients and families to draw upon their own spiritual resources for healing and wholeness. At St. Mary’s, chaplains address what we assess as “spiritual pains.” Whether patient or family are in the midst of a sudden crisis or an ongoing chronic struggle, our chaplains are available for:

  • Spiritual needs:
    • Meaning, forgiveness, relatedness, and hopelessness pain
    • Dealing with suffering, loss, grief, change or discouragement
    • Celebrating relief, healing, gratitude
    • Ethical decisions regarding continuing or discontinuing treatments
  • Religious concerns:
    • Prayer, scripture, faith
    • Reconciliation, forgiveness
    • Grace-filled moments
    • Other ways God is present (or seemingly not) in life
  • Specific sacramental or denominational needs:
    • Communion, reconciliation, baptism, blessing
    • Anointing of the Sick
    • Holy Book or other spiritual resource
    • Community or church concerns
    • Contacting church, parish, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship

Contact Us

For more information about Clinical Pastoral Education, call (304) 399-7465, or e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

More Information
Clinical Pastoral Education
CPE Application