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CPE: Program Overview

This document gives an overview of Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Pennsylvania Health System according to the following headings: CPE at UPHS
Program Clinical Sites
Program Formats
Qualifications and Application Process
Students Rights Regarding CPE Records


The ACPE center at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is accredited by the ACPE to offer Level 1, Level 2, and Supervisory Education, and offers Clinical Pastoral Education in a stimulating and demanding setting. Primary student placements are at the 770-bed Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at 34th and Spruce Streets (operationally integrated with the Level 1 Trauma Center at the nearby Penn Presbyterian Medical Center) and the 500-bed Pennsylvania Hospital at 8th and Spruce Streets.

Student experiences in this ACPE center are enriched by the context of a Health System that includes the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, seven hospitals, a rehabilitation facility, and a hospice. The program also benefits from the influence of the University of Pennsylvania environment in general, the University Department of Religious Studies, the School of Nursing, and the University Chaplain's Office.

Students learn through their involvement in a Department that is fully part of a teaching hospital committed to extensive research programs, and through a crucial role in the Trauma Center at Penn.

The Department is involved with research (having been named the ACPE Research Center of the Year in 1998) and ethics (through the Ethics Committee of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania); and the monthly Spirituality, Religion and Health Interest Group brings students into contact with representatives of the faculty of the Nursing and Medical Schools and the University, the community, and the staff and students of the Health System.

Both the patient population and the Pastoral Care Department are characterized by religious and cultural diversity.

Accredited CPE programs are offered at Level 1 and Level 2 and at the Supervisory Education Level. Programs are offered in full-time Summer Internships, full-time stipended 12-month Residencies, and part-time Extern programs, as well as in Supervisory Education programs in cooperation with other ACPE centers in the Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania area--The Eastern Pennsylvania Institute of Clinical Supervision.

CPE has been accredited at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania since 1985. The UPHS center also carries forward the historic tradition of the Presbyterian Medical Center's CPE program, which had been the genesis of CPE throughout the Philadelphia area since 1966.

Education is a foundational element of the mission of the Department.

Levels of CPE and national ACPE contact information:
UPHS offers CPE Level 1, 2, and Supervisory Education accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
The ACPE National Office is at One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: 404-320-0849

The Faculty:
The faculty for the CPE program includes people from various disciplines both from inside and outside of the University. The Director of Pastoral Care, Chaplain Jim Browning, who is a certified ACPE Supervisor.

Program Clinical Sites

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), located at 34th & Spruce, is a 770-bed teaching hospital, with clinical services integrated with the Level 1 Trauma Center at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (38th & Powelton). Regularly ranked among the top ten institutions in the country as the Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania Penn Presbyterian, the complex of facilities offers tertiary/quaternary care in the fields of Oncology, Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Transplantation, Orthopedics, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Gastroenterology and GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology and Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Psychiatry, Pulmonology, Urology, and Ear, Nose & Throat. Founded in 1847, HUP was the nation's first university teaching hospital and remains a primary teaching site for the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. It is part of the campus of the University of Pennsylvania and has had an active CPE program since 1985.

Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH), located at 8th & Spruce, is the oldest hospital in the United States, founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond. Today, this 500-bed facility is not only rich in tradition but at the cutting edge of modern medicine. It is nationally ranked in orthopaedics, cardiac care, neurosciences, hematology/oncology, urology, fertility care, and behavioral health, and its obstetrics program specializes in high-risk maternal and fetal services. It is also the home of Penn Medicine's Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery, offering unique medical and surgical alternatives to patients unwilling to accept blood transfusions or blood products. The first CPE program began at PAH in the fall of 1998.

Program Formats at HUP and PAH

Summer Internships: Full-time summer interns (in a program running eleven weeks, from the beginning of June to mid-August) are offered a concentrated introduction to pastoral care in the hospital setting. A peer group of five or six share night and weekend duty rotation. Interns completing the program receive one unit of credit.

Twelve-Month Residency Program: A stipended residency, running full-time from September to September, allows students to develop further pastoral competency and explore various specialty areas. Residents have regular patient care unit assignments at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and are also part of the Trauma Team at Penn's Level 1 Trauma Center (Penn Presbyterian Medical Center), sharing a rotation of overnight and weekend shifts with staff chaplains. A previous unit of CPE is the usual prerequisite. Residents completing the program receive three units of ACPE credit.

Supervisory Education Student Fellow: Qualified students wishing to explore or pursue Supervisory Education participate in a peer group and in programs designated for Supervisory Education and opportunities for supervisory experience appropriate to students' progress. The Supervisory Education Fellow will be involved in clinical care and duty rotations at HUP. Programming is a shared curriculum of the Eastern Pennsylvania Institute of Clinical Supervision (including bi-monthly Supervisory Education Peer Group Seminars with several area Supervisors and Supervisory Education students) and is augmented by the regional-level Seminars on Supervision that are held twice yearly. Persons in clinical settings outside of the University of Pennsylvania Health System are also accepted into the UPHS Supervisory Education program, as appropriate; and settings for observing and supervising are sometimes arranged in programs outside of the Health System. The prerequisite for the Supervisory Education is having met the outcomes of Level I and Level II CPE.

Externships: Part-time programs offer persons in school or with full-time employment the opportunity to achieve one unit of CPE over a nine-month period at HUP (--approximately fifteen hours per week, including monthly night duty, six hours of patient care, and five hours of seminars weekly at HUP), or up to two consecutive units of CPE over a twelve-month period at Pennsylvania Hospital (--the peer group meets weekly at HUP and students work 10-14 hours of patient care per week at Pennsylvania Hospital, with monthly night duty at HUP). The HUP program unit begins in September, and the Pennsylvania Hospital program units begin in September and February.

Qualifications and Application Process

The CPE Application Form (--see our Application Procedure page) begins the process. An interview on site is preferable, but first-unit students are accepted on the basis of an application plus a screening interview by a qualified CPE interviewer. One unit of CPE is the prerequisite for stipended residencies, and four units of CPE is the usual prerequisite for Tier II Supervisory Education. Special consideration for international students is offered with regard to equivalencies and interviews.

The center accepts and approves applications on an individual basis rather than on program deadlines. Therefore, the order that applications are received is an important consideration in acceptance. Balancing the participants in the peer group is also a consideration in reviewing the applicants.

"Either graduation from high school/GED or ordination (or equivalent) by a faith community or commission to function in ministry by an appropriate religious authority" is required of all ACPE applicants [Standard 231.3]. Such ordained ministers, members of religious orders, students, and lay person with sufficient grounding in their religious tradition and sufficient personal spiritual maturity to function as chaplains in the hospital setting and with openness to a pluralistic, inter-faith setting and receptiveness to small-group, self-reflective experiential learning will be considered for admission. Additional admission requirements for Supervisory Education students are provided in the Supervisory Education program description for this center. College and seminary preparation is usual for Residents, but equivalent experience is considered.

Student Rights Regarding CPE Records

This ACPE CPE Center/program guarantees to its students the rights to inspect and review educational records, to seek to amend them, to specified control over release of record information, and to file a complaint against the program for alleged violation of these Family Education and Privacy Act (FERPA) rights.

A student has the right to object to record content. If not negotiable, the written objection will be kept with and released with the record. Grades are exempted from this right.

Violations of these protocols may be reported to the Chair of the Accreditation Commission at: ACPE, One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030.