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Frequently Asked Questions

This page has answers to many of the questions that people ask us most often.  If you're looking for basic information about professional chaplaincy you may find your answer here.

What is the recommended staffing ratio for professional chaplains in acute care?

While some ratios have been published over the years, we do not believe that there is a standard ratio for chaplains. This stance is supported by the Association of Professional Chaplains. The scope of work of chaplains varies dramatically even among acute care hospitals. For instance, a hospital with a trauma center and a large percentage of ICU beds will require quite different staffing than a hospital that does little emergency care. We recommend that staffing be decided as a result of a strategic planning process involving all major stakeholders to decide what the contribution of chaplaincy is going to be at a particular hospital.

What metrics do you recommend for measuring the productivity of chaplaincy?

Again, the answer depends on the goals for chaplaincy in the particular hospital. For instance, if a goal is to visit and assess all palliative care patients, the metric would be the percentage of palliative care patients who are visited and assessed. Metrics should measure performance on agreed upon goals.

Are their standards of practice for professional chaplaincy and if so, where can I find them?

There are standards of practice for professional chaplaincy in both acute care and long term care. They are available on the website of the Association of Professional Chaplains (

What are the requirements to be a professional chaplain in health care?

The major requirements are completion of graduate theological education, four units (1600 hours) of Clinical Pastoral Education, and ordination or commissioning by a recognized faith group. Further information can be found on the websites of the Association of Professional Chaplains (, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains ( or the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (

Where can I find a list of places to take Clinical Pastoral Education?

The website of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education ( has a complete directory of ACPE centers presented by geography. You would apply directly to the center in which you want to train.

Where can I find tools for teaching cultural competence?

Some very good tools are available for free download from the website of HealthCare Chaplaincy (

I have heard that there is a specialty certification opportunity for chaplains in palliative care. What are the details?

The Association of Professional Chaplains rolled out such a program in May, 2013. It is available to anyone who is a Board Certified Chaplain. Standards and requirements can be found on the APC website at ( HealthCare Chaplaincy and the Palliative Care Institute of California State University at San Marcos is offering an on line course for those who wish to sharpen their knowledge base in preparation for this certification process. Details are on the HCC website (

What are some of the best places to find resources for enhancing the spiritual care and chaplaincy care programs in my institution?

Spiritual Care Association (

Health Care Chaplaincy Network (

Association of Professional Chaplains (

Center to Advance Palliative Care (

Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health (

George Washington Institute for Spirituality & Health (