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Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by SaggyWoman, Oct 20, 2008.
Have you ever been involved in a chaplaincy program with a hospital? What to look out for?
I have, what do you want to know?
Mine started as part of a Seminary class I took on "Pastoral Care in the Hospital Setting." We were required to serve a 6 month interm at the local hospital and qualify as volunteer chaplins. After the class was over I remained on staff as a volunteer for about 3 years.
So a class in seminary would get it. Have you ever taken the training offered through the hospital?
Yes. I did a semester as a full-time chaplain resident. Look out for on-call requirements.
Do you just want to volunteer and take part in this ministry or do you want to get paid for your time. Most hospitals will take you on as a volunteer with nothing more than a reference from your local church and a background check. They can do training there at the hospital and then put you with another chaplain for a while.
If you want to do this for a living then you are going to need an accredited Seminary degree or a Master's in counseling. In most hospitals NCC (Nationally Certified Counselor) status would be required within a short time of taking the job. A Master's in Social Work might get you in the door, depends on the hospital.
I found hospital chaplaincy very rewarding personally and plan to do it again when my kids are grown. The biggest thing you do is help families make funeral arrangements. Before the family leaves the hospital you have to at least know who will be picking up the body. You also get a lot of requests for prayer before surgery. If someone is being discharged to a hospice facility they tend to want to talk to someone.
You are there for the patients but often you get a chance to minister to the staff as well. I have had doctors who called for me before they went in to tell a patient or a family that they faced a "hopeless" situation. Often doctors take deaths very personally, especially when it was not supposed to be a fatal situation. We like to joke about Doctors getting a god complex, but when God steps in and they realize that they don't have all the answers and can't save every life they need help too.
I only had one "deathbed conversion" where I led someone to the Lord. That was awesome, but I realized it was the fruition of years of prayer and work on the part of the man's family.
I always liked to hang out on the maternity floor when I was roaming the hospital. You get both extremes there. The joy of new babies and praying over them with their families, and the pain of miscarriage and the fragility of NICU babies. I remember spending time with a teen age mother giving her baby up for adoption. I remember one teen age mother who lost her's and blamed herself for "wanting" to miscarry. Wow, a lot of memories.
Things to watch for: You are going to have to leave your denominational titles and hang ups at the door. When you are the on call chaplain you are going to be asked to help families from a wide variety of backgrounds. Not just Catholic/Protestant, I have had requests for help from Atheists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Muslims, and Jews. If you can't put yourself aside and allow God to use you to reach people where they are then find another ministry.
I remember a guy who called for a chaplain and wanted me to pray with him before he went into surgery. He was Jewish. He asked me "What I was," and I told him Baptist. He said, "But I am a Jew." I told him, "Hey, you know I pray to the God of Abraham too." Now some of my more conservative friends would (and have actually) called me on that. "You should have told him he was lost, you should have told him he needed to accept Christ, you should have told him Jesus was the messiah, and so on." NO!, not right then I did not. Of course I hope that I planted a seed that God can use. I hope I planted the idea in his head that we worship the same God and are not that far apart. I hope that he at some point gets saved. But my job that day was to minister to him the best I could where he was.
I could give you lots of other similar stories. If you do this God can put you in a place where he can use you to minister to others and it is great. But you may have to open your view of what that means a little.
You know, Hospital visitation is hospital visitation. I enjoy hospital visitation.
Then there is the step into crisis situations. I like that, too. Something I am praying about.
If you prepare and put yourself in a position where God can use you He usually does.
I have had CPE and am on rotation as a volunteer hospital chaplain (and have done the same for nursing homes). What would you like to know?