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Clinical Pastoral Education

The Pastoral Care Department at Baton Rouge General is dedicated to providing spiritual care and support to our patients, family members and staff. But we are also dedicated to the development and training of those called to provide ministry to the sick. We are the only hospital in Baton Rouge that offers extended Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), a program that is accredited by The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP). Trainees may seek membership in one of the local CPSP chapters where they may obtain board certification as a chaplain or pastoral counselor.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is graduate-level theological and professional education for ministry that takes place in a clinical setting. CPE trainees learn the art and skills of pastoral care by providing support to patients, families and staff, and then reflecting on their ministry experiences with a certified CPE Diplomate Supervisor and a small group of peers.

In addition to learning skills and expanding knowledge related to ministry in a healthcare setting, trainees learn about themselves and how their personal histories, faith perspectives and individual gifts influence their pastoral and professional functioning. Trainees have the opportunity to shape their learning by setting their own goals and by seeking experiences and resources to assist in meeting those goals.

The clinical learning method is a dynamic and creative process that combines action (the actual practice of ministry) and reflection (using resources such as written visit reports, discussion and feedback from peers and CPE Supervisor). The resulting learning cycle enables trainees to expand their skills and knowledge while deepening their self-awareness and self-knowledge. From this process, new ministry and relational choices and responses are available to the student.

Potential Students

CPE is appropriate for seminary trainees preparing for ordained ministry, ordained clergy who desire continuing education in pastoral/spiritual care, and qualified lay persons who desire advanced pastoral care skills to use within their faith communities. Lay persons and clergy may also take CPE to discern a ministry vocation in chaplaincy, and CPE is the primary clinical training modality for those preparing for professional hospital chaplaincy, including people from many faiths, denominations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Potential students typically take a first unit of CPE. If the CPE experience confirms their interest, it is recommended they continue training. The national certifying professional chaplaincy organizations typically require a total of four CPE units as part of the certification requirements.


Each “unit” of CPE consists of a minimum of 400 hours combining no less than 100 hours of structured group and individual education with supervised clinical practice in ministry. CPE trainees are assigned to patient care units to serve as a chaplain intern or resident. In addition to visiting patients and families and interacting with the staff on their assigned clinical areas, CPE trainees serve as on-call chaplains for after-hours shifts.

Baton Rouge General’s CPE curriculum is designed to facilitate trainees’ learning in pastoral formation, pastoral competence and pastoral reflection. CPE provides opportunities to embrace the role of minister and learn pastoral/spiritual care skills related to ministry, to develop abilities in self-reflection and self-awareness, and to learn to use peers, supervisors and others as resources for learning. CPE is done in a small group format, and each CPE program typically has 4-6 trainees enrolled. Given the value of diverse experiences, thinking and styles of ministry, the CPE Supervisors try to create a small group with as much diversity as possible.

The peer group meets routinely each week in order to:

  • Review and discuss student presentations of their pastoral visits, using the resources of theology/spirituality, the behavioral sciences, and pastoral care to develop greater knowledge and awareness of the dynamics and needs present in the visit.
  • Attend lectures or presentations of conceptual material relevant to learning and serving in the pastoral role within this setting.
  • Reflect on the peer relationships and on the dynamics within the peer group, in order to learn more about oneself in relationship with others and as a group member (peer supervision).

In addition to the group meetings, individual supervision occurs with the CPE Supervisor on a scheduled basis giving the trainee opportunity to discuss their specific learning needs and concerns. CPE trainees also set their own learning goals at the program's start which helps personalize their learning. Staff chaplains serve as resources and consultants for the trainees' learning, both formally and informally.

It is important to note that while CPE shares some elements with traditional classroom learning (such as lectures, required reading, and written visit reports), there is a unique emphasis on using “here and now” relationships – with patients, families, medical staff, pastoral care staff, peers, and supervisor – as an avenue for learning about ministry and ministry relationships. Through these relationships, students can practice, experience and reflect upon issues of trust, respect, differences, assertiveness confrontation and conflict as a way to grow in the self-awareness and skills needed for ministry.


The CPE program at Baton Rouge General is supervised by Chaplain Pat Davis, Director of Pastoral Care. Chaplain Davis is certified by CPSP as a Diplomate of Pastoral Supervision. He has been in hospital chaplaincy since 1983 when he began his CPE residency at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. Chaplain Davis received his undergraduate degree in Business Management Studies from the University of South Alabama and Master of Religious Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a Certified Clinical Chaplain with The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy and the Association of Professional Chaplains. He is a member of the CPSP Jackson, Miss. Chapter, and is endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He also serves as Director of the Arts in Medicine program at Baton Rouge General.

How to Apply

Prospective students should complete an application for CPE.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the first unit of CPE is $500. Subsequent units are $250 each. Application, fees and tuition should be mailed to: Baton Rouge General, Pastoral Care Department, 3600 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

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