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CPE Frequently Asked Questions 

For more information contact Clinical Pastoral Education directly.

What is a typical day in CPE?

A typical day consists of group time and visiting hospital patients in the role of chaplains. A unit of CPE consists of 100 instructional hours and 300 clinical ministry hours.

How many CPE sessions can I miss?

Students are expected to attend all CPE activities. If a student anticipates missing more than two days, a conference with the supervisor is required. Some arrangements can be made for specific needs as long as they are discussed in advance.

Will I be doing "rotations" or serve on a particular hospital area?

A student has a specific clinical assignment to a hospital service. On their on-call shifts, students gain experience in all areas of the hospital. Rotations can be arranged according to learning needs.

How are the hospital Staff Chaplains involved with CPE students?

The staff chaplains act in the role of "mentors" for the CPE students. They help with orientation, didactics, shadowing, and mentoring.

What is the "St. Louis CPE Cluster"?

The "St. Louis CPE Cluster" is a consortium of several CPE centers in the St. Louis area which collaborate in supervising the CPE residency program.

What does CPE prepare a person to do?

CPE develops skills for pastoral care for people in parish work, chaplaincy, lay ecclesial ministry, teaching, counseling, and other forms of ministry.

Many theological schools require CPE as part of their field education practicum, contextual education, or supervised ministry internship.

  • Religious communities and dioceses require CPE as part of their formation programs.
  • Many denominations require CPE as an element in their ordination track.
  • Professional Chaplains' organizations require four units of CPE for board-certification as a chaplain.
  • Acceptance into supervisory education requires a minimum of four units of CPE.

Can one receive academic credit for a CPE unit?

Yes, if you are enrolled as a student in a seminary or graduate school of theology, and if your school grants credits for supervised practice or field work, you can get anywhere between 3 to 6 credits (depending on the school). However, if one is not enrolled as a student in an academic program, one cannot obtain academic credit.

How is the privacy of a CPE student protected?

CPE students are protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which protects the privacy of adult student education records. For more information, please see: Student CPE evaluations are kept on file for ten years at the center in which they took CPE. The evaluations can only be released with the student's written permission.

How many overnight on-calls?

Summer students and Extended students are required to do approximately five to seven evening/night on-call shifts (eight hours each) during the course of a unit. Residents do three (3) shifts in a month. Shifts can be distributed between evening shifts (3 – 11 pm) or night shifts (11 pm – 7 am). Adjustments according to individual needs can be made.