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Presbyterian's Pastoral Care Residents Prepare to Serve Community

August 14, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Hospital chaplains have long been a source of comfort for patients and families facing crisis or illness, and Presbyterian Healthcare Services is proud to be training the next generation of hospital chaplains.

Presbyterian offers the only Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) accredited program in New Mexico. Six residents will graduate from the one-year program on Friday, August 15 (Media are invited to attend the graduation at Presbyterian Hospital on Friday, August 15 at 11:30 a.m. with interviews to follow program).

Chaplains have an increasingly important role in patient care, from offering spiritual guidance to helping patients make difficult end-of-life decisions. Through Presbyterian’s Clinical Pastoral Education program, ordained clergy, religious orders and qualified laity get the continuing education they need to become board-certified chaplains. Residents receive hands-on education under the guidance of a certified ACPE Supervisor. As they rotate through Presbyterian facilities they learn a variety of skills, such as how to make a spiritual assessment and provide ministry to people in crisis and trauma.

Rebecca Hemphill is one of the residents graduating on Friday. She was also the first chaplain resident to join Presbyterian’s new pilot program, where she spent six months of her residency focusing on palliative care, which optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering.

“It was an amazing experience learning to minister to patients who are facing serious illnesses and need their symptoms managed, but are not on hospice,” Hemphill said. “I was able to serve on an inter-professional team of medical providers, social workers and nurse specialists, all working together to treat patients’ suffering or ‘total pain’, which includes body, emotions, spirit and social environment.”

Hemphill was excited to be accepted into Presbyterian’s accredited ACPE program so she wouldn’t have to leave New Mexico and her family to become a board-certified chaplain. She has applied for chaplain work with Presbyterian and hopes to continue serving the organization.

“As rigorous as Presbyterian’s program is, without this experience I wouldn’t have known what it means to be a healthcare chaplain and the dedication and spiritual commitment that it takes,” she said.


About Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Presbyterian Healthcare Services exists to improve the health of patients, members and the communities we serve. Presbyterian was founded in New Mexico in 1908, and is the state’s only private, not-for-profit healthcare system. Presbyterian has eight hospitals, a statewide health plan, and a growing multi-specialty medical group. Presbyterian is the second largest private employer in New Mexico with more than 10,000 employees.

Media Inquiries:

Kerri Dufault
Communications Specialist