What Is A Chaplain?

A Professional Healthcare Chaplain is a theologically educated, pastorally experienced, and clinically trained minister who is certified by a professional chaplaincy organization and serves as an integral member of the healthcare team. The chaplain’s primary role is to provide spiritual/pastoral care to patients/residents, their family members, and the medical staff. In addition, professional chaplaincy care provides emotional, religious, and ethical care.

An HCMA Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) has a specialized level of skilled spiritual/pastoral care — expertise, proficiency, know-how — that no one else can provide. The BCC has been peer reviewed for the competency of this chaplaincy care and is endorsed by his or her church for this type of specialized ministry at the bedside.

Professional Chaplains are available 24-hours a day to provide compassionate and competent crisis intervention and spiritual/pastoral support to everyone, regardless of their faith or no faith.

Other Healthcare Chaplain Duties:

In House Pastor for Staff: In the often stressful and demanding healthcare environment, an HCMA Chaplain is an understanding friend and confidant. The Chaplain can provide a listening ear and a pastoral point of view for the staff as they face professional and personal problems. Staff members who have no minister of their own often seek the Chaplain’s counsel, especially during times of personal family need or professional pressures.

Liaison for Local Clergy: Usually the healthcare Chaplain sees a patient/resident before his or her minister is aware of the hospitalization. With the patient/resident’s permission, the Chaplain can call the family pastor, priest, rabbi, or other religious leader. The Chaplain provides pastoral care and support until the patient/resident’s own minister arrives.

Contact for the Community: Serving often as the healthcare facility’s religious community public relations person, the Chaplain is able to coordinate services provided by the community clergy. The Chaplain is prepared to conduct seminars and workshops on topics such as patient/resident visitation, terminal illness, death and dying, and the grieving process. The Chaplain is available also to speak in churches when the regular minister is away.

Support for Patients’/Residents’ Families: The Chaplain is available to help with the distressed families of critically ill or dying patients/residents. If the patient/resident does not have his or her own minister, the Chaplain may serve as trusted friend and pastoral figure.