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Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is interreligious, professional, clinical education preparing students for vocations in pastoral care. CPE Students from all religious traditions are supervised in the art and science of spiritual care. Through practice and feedback, students develop awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those in their care. Reflecting from their religious perspective, students gain knowledge in pastoral care. From the dynamic process of spiritual care, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.

Program description

The VA Long Beach CPE program will host three CPE units per year in both intensive (11 week full-time) and extended (16-19 week part-time) units. Each CPE unit can accept up to 6 interns at either Level I or Level II CPE. The CPE program is open to both civilians and veterans alike. CPE Interns are assigned to different clinics and services during their unit work with Chaplain Preceptors who provide mentorship and clinical oversight. Services that CPE students typically serve include: Spinal Cord Injury, Mental Health, Medical/Surgical, Ambulatory Surgery, the Community Living Center, Palliative Care, ICU, DOU (Direct Observation Unit), Emergency. CPE students may conduct spirituality groups (on their own or with a Staff Chaplain) and individual counseling for veterans recovering from PTSD in the Community Based Outpatient Centers (CBOC’s).

Learn more about Clinical Pastoral Education.

CPE Unit CPE Level(s) Dates Hours/Week Availability Fall 2024 1A and 1B September 3, 2024 – December 27, 2024 24 Open Winter 2025 1A and 1B January 20, 2025 – May 16, 2025 24 Open Summer 2025 1A and 1B June 2, 2025 – August 15, 2025 40 Open Fall 2025 1A and 1B September 2, 2025 – December 26, 2025 24 Open Winter 2026 1A and 1B January 20, 2026 – May 15, 2026 20 Open Summer 2026 1A and 1B June 1, 2026 – August 14, 2026 40 Open Fall 2026 1A and 1B September 1, 2026 – December 26, 2024 24 Open

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply to the program?

Fill out the ACPE application form, making sure to read the instructions carefully and fully answering the essay questions. Your application should be limited to seven (7) pages. If you have had prior CPE: include your final self-evaluation and that of your Educator and a recent verbatim. The application should be saved a one single PDF file. It can be emailed to Peter Carino. If you would prefer to use US mail, address the envelop to: 

Rev. Peter Carino 
Chaplain Service 
VA Long Beach Healthcare System
5901 E 7th St.
Long Beach, CA 90822

What is the application process?

Students should anticipate applying a minimum of six (6) months prior to the start of the CPE unit. Applications are taken on a rolling basis until the unit is filled. An application interview is required with a panel of hospital stakeholders. After the interview, within two (2) weeks a students is notified that either 1) they have been accepted into the program, 2) they are put on a waiting list or 3) they have not be accepted into the program.

Why do I have to apply so early?

There two reasons. First, the application process is competitive (especially for summer units) and can take a number of weeks from application to interview. Second, as a federal agency, the VA process for onboarding CPE interns is complex and can take two months to complete. It requires a full background check, immunizations, and other requirements.

Is there an application fee or tuition?

No fees or tuition are charged at VA CPE programs

What types of CPE are offered?

VA Long Beach CPE Center currently offers Level I and Level II CPE internship units. CEC CPE is not currently offered.

Are the internships paid?

No, internships are not paid. We hope to have year-long paid residents in the future.

What are the requirements to apply?

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a CHEA accredited school. It is highly recommended that applicants have completed a substantial portion of a masters degree in divinity or a related field. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents. Male students must be registered with the selective service.

When are CPE units conducted?

Three different CPE units are conducted each academic year. Two extended part-time (22-25 hours per week): September – mid-December and mid-January – mid-May. Extended units are 16-19 weeks long. All CPE units are approximately 420 hours, of which a minimum 100 hours are class time and 300 hours are patient care.

What does a typical CPE day look like?

During a summer unit, 10 hours of class time will spread over three days. The other 30 hours will be dedicated for clinical practice. During class time, students engage in verbatims (case studies) on their patient care, didactics both medically-related and pastoral skills-related. The group will meet one (1) hour per week for group dynamics work and processing. Students will have a one (1) hour individual supervision session with the Certified Educator. Clinical time is any time spent caring for patients, their families, or staff. Student are expected to chart all patient visits in the Center’s electronic medical record.

During extended units, all of the same activities take place, but are spread out over a longer number of weeks. The time commitment is less for each week in extended units.

For more information or to apply for CPE at the Long Beach VA Healthcare System, please contact:

Peter Carino MDiv, BCC

CPE Educator

VA Long Beach health care



VA Long Beach CPE Center is accredited by ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education to provide Level I and Level II. For more information, contact ACPE; 1 Concourse Pkwy, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA 30328,

ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education