Health & Medicine

Hospital chaplains care for body, mind and spirit

Alice Tremaine
Alice Tremaine

Professional chaplains serve in many settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, home-based hospice programs, prisons and even business organizations. Chaplains are trained to help people integrate their experiences with what gives them meaning and hope.

In a health care setting, chaplains partner with medical professionals to provide care that extends beyond physical needs to encompass wholeness of body, mind and spirit.

Faith and spiritual practices are powerful expressions of meaning and hope. For many, faith is what gives them strength in the midst of suffering. People also experience meaning and purpose by participating in significant relationships and by making unique contributions in the world. Chaplains respect and care for patients with varied or no religious beliefs.

A board-certified chaplain is one who has demonstrated professional competence as a chaplain. The certification requirements for chaplains include clinical training, work experience, ecclesiastical endorsement and an appearance before a certification committee, in addition to having completed a bachelor’s degree and theological education at the graduate level.

Most health care institutions have chaplains on staff or on call. A visit from a chaplain can typically be arranged by a member of the health care staff. You or your loved one may benefit from visiting with a chaplain when experiencing any of the following:

▪  Need for spiritual and emotional support, such as when struggling with a new diagnosis or with the ongoing suffering caused by a chronic illness

▪  Grief, loss and bereavement

▪  Loss of meaning, identity or hope

▪  Need for assistance with advance directives, such as living wills

▪  Religious, spiritual or existential conflict

▪  Family conflict and/or difficulty making decisions regarding medical treatment

▪  Need for religious or cultural ritual or sacrament

▪  Need for assistance with connecting with a community of faith

▪  Estranged relationships, or needs related to forgiveness

▪  Fear, anxiety, difficulty managing stress

People often report they’ve appreciated the support provided by a chaplain. In difficult times, chaplains can offer meaningful guidance and support.

The Rev. Alice Tremaine is chaplain manager at Baptist Health Corbin.