Dear Faith Community:
Grace and peace to you this Easter Season! I write this with the hope of connecting with you and the people of your congregation more intentionally around Clinic Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE is an educational program and internship for ministry, in which students gain valuable experiences serving in pastoral care. Students learn about themselves and how to minister under the guidance of CPE Educators and alongside a cohort of peers.
A minimum of one unit of CPE is a requirement for all candidates pursing ordination in the mainline Protestant traditions, as well as those aspiring to the Roman Catholic Priesthood. CPE is also valuable training for those discerning a call to ministry, for those who have been in ministry and seek to hone their skills, and for anyone open to a transformational, action-reflection experience. A total of four CPE units are required for board certification as chaplain.
VMP Healthcare & Community Living has been caring for older adults for nearly 100 years and has been actively educating CPE students form the diverse faith background since 1999. The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) is the Department of Education accrediting body of the CPE Program. The ACPE standard for one unit of CPE is a minimum of 300 hours of combined clinical ministry and ministry education. VMP currently offers accredited VPE year-round and in two different formats.
During the summer months, we host an 11 week intensive (full-time) on-site program. Students are afforded the opportunity to serve and learn alongside VMP staff chaplains throughout the full continuum of senior healthcare provided on our campus. Summer CPE students may serve as chaplains in independent or assisted living, skilled nursing which includes a ventilator unit, two memory care units, and end-of-life hospice care. Preaching, leading ecumenical worship services, teaching small group Bible Study, and facilitating other spirituality groups are all a part of the summer experience.
The ministry education hours in the summer intensive program are comprised of meeting with the CPE group for 10-12 hours each week and for individual instruction 1 hour weekly, totaling 150 hours. The remaining 250 hours of clinical ministry required for the program are done at VMP, including weekdays and some weekend hours in a worship leading role.
During the academic year, VMP offers two extended or part-time programs, each within a semester time-frame. There is one weekday set aside as the educational day for this program. Extended unit CPE students choose either to complete their ministry hours at VMP or outside of our senior community, such as in a church. In this format, students may either finish their educational hours on-site at VMP or through ZOOM meetings. In the extended unit program, the weekly educational days along with twice-a-month individual education comprise 150 hours. This leaves minimum of 250 hours of clinical ministry that each student fulfills over the course of the program, either at VMP or in a church setting.
The VMP CPE program is a unique and rewarding opportunity to gather experience within a healthcare setting dedicated to seniors. Students will learn to establish rapport with older adults, to better understand different communication styles, and provide emotional support and spiritual comfort to those in need.
If you, any of your congregational members, or affiliates are interested in speaking with me further, I would be glad to continue the conversation. We try to hold admissions interviews for all applicants about 2 months prior to the beginning of the session. Space is limited to 6 students per program so that we can devote the proper time and attention to each student. Please contact me at 414-607-4355 or Meg.Lybeck-Smoak@VMP.org. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
May God bless you,
Rev. Meg Lybeck-Smoak
VMP Director of Pastoral Care
ACPE Certified Educator