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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 720-bed Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at 34th and Spruce Streets and the 515-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, four hospitals, and a hospice program. 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 integrated into a teaching hospital committed to extensive research programs, and through a crucial role in a Level 1 Trauma Center program.

The Department is involved with research (having been named the ACPE Research Center of the Year in 1998) and ethics (through the Institutional 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 9-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 ACPE
The ACPE National Office is at 1549 Clairmont Rd., Suite 103, Decatur GA 30033
Phone: 404-320-1472

The Faculty:
The faculty for the CPE program includes people from various disciplines both from inside and outside of the University. The Coordinator of CPE, Chaplain Rhoda Toperzer, and the Director of Pastoral Care, Chaplain Jim Browning, are both certified ACPE Supervisors.

Program Clinical Sites

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), located at 34th and Spruce, is a 720-bed academic medical center and a Level I Trauma Center. It is the first hospital built to serve a school of medicine, and the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine is the nation's oldest medical school. A wide range of specialties, including medical and cardiac intensive care, ob/gyn, psychiatry, oncology, neurology, orthopedics, and numerous transplant programs are available.

Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH), located at 8th and Spruce, is the nation's first hospital and was founded by Ben Franklin. It is a 515-bed acute care hospital with a wide range of medical specialties and provides placements for medical students and residents from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

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.

Nine-Month Resident Program: A stipended residency, running full-time from September through May, allows students to develop further pastoral competency and explore various specialty areas. Monthly Bioethics Rounds with the Penn Center for Bioethics and a monthly Pastoral Care Research and Literature Seminar complement the weekly didactic series offered for Residents and Externs. 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 Pennsylvania Hospital for five hours of seminar and works 10-14 hours of patient care per week there, 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 usual 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, 1549 Clairmont Road, Suite 103, Decatur, GA 30033.