Clinical Pastoral Education
VA New York Harbor Healthcare System’s (VA NYHHS) Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program offers a multi-cultural and multi-faith experience in a holistic educational setting with opportunities to develop personal, professional and theological competencies. In addition, our program offers the experience of providing care for and learning from our Veterans.
At VA NYHHS, the CPE Program uses a wide range of clinical settings to provide clinical training in pastoral care. These care settings range from inpatient hospital units, both medical and psychiatric, to outpatient clinics to long-term care facilities. CPE combines instruction in pastoral care with direct experience in providing pastoral care with reflection on that experience. It is accepted as the standard preparation for ministry for those who seek to become or to continue as career healthcare chaplains. Those who complete the CPE Program apply their acquired skills as pastoral caregivers in many settings, from congregations to hospitals, prisons to hospices.
Learn more about Clinical Pastoral Education.
The VA NYHHS CPE program is a part of the VA’s commitment to education. We have four residency positions and three fellow positions. The Residency Program is a year-long, full-time program that allows the student to complete four CPE program units. The Fellowship is a Mental Health Chaplaincy, year long program for advanced students, a prior Residency is preferred. Specialties in Geriatric Care, Palliative care and Substance Abuse are offered in the Fellowship.
The Veteran Administration New York Harbor Healthcare System (VA NYHHS) is made up of three campuses. The New York Campus and the Brooklyn Campus are acute healthcare facilities, each with a 200-bed capacity. The St. Albans campus is a long-term care facility with a 210-bed capacity. The VA residents and fellows collaborate with the CPE Certified Educator to set learning goals, and students are assigned to a campus that meets their learning needs. Students in the program are considered part of the team and attend interdisciplinary team meetings on the unit where they are assigned. They work with staff chaplains offer clinical guidance and consultation. Services that the CPE students typically serve include: Psychiatry, the Substance Abuse Recovery Program (SARP), Medical/Surgical, Ambulatory Surgery, the Community Living Center, Palliative Care, ICU and other outpatient care centers as needs are identified. Chaplain students also provide spirituality groups both in person and via video conferencing, as some outpatient care is now done via telehealth.
The VANYHHS CPE Center is accredited by ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education to provide Level I/II, and Certified Educator CPE. For more information, contact ACPE;
ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education
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ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education
ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education
CPE Program - Frequently Asked Questions
We have a full-time Residency program, which runs from the beginning of October to the end of the following September. VA Residents earn four units of ACPE credit, and receive a stipend from the VA. There are three first year residency positions, and one second year residency position, available each Fall. There is also a full-time Fellowship Program, which follows the same calendar as the Residency. The Fellowship is intended for advanced students who wish to pursue specialized training.
If you are interested in applying for any CPE program, you will need to complete an ACPE application, located at: https://acpe.edu/education/cpe-students/cpe-application .Please read the instructions on the application signature page thoroughly and sign the application (an e-signature is fine). The responses for questions #2-6 typically run 7-10 single spaced pages, although there is no specific page limit. Please submit a 1–2-page resume for question #13. You are encouraged to save the essays as one document and submit your application via email to email@example.com. If you prefer, applications can be mailed to:
VA NYHHS CPE Program
Attn: Chaplain Florine Thompson
VA St. Albans CLC, 179-00 Linden Blvd.
St. Albans, NY, 11424-1468
If you have completed CPE previously, your application essays should reflect what you have learned about yourself and your spiritual journey. Be sure to re-read the application instructions, especially Questions 5 and 6, and update your essays accordingly. Applications submitted for Residency and Fellowship without a verbatim may not be considered.
After we receive your application, we will review your application for completeness. At that point, we will email you to set up an interview. If you do not hear from us within two weeks of applying, you may want to contact us to ensure that we received your application. It is our policy not to offer feedback to potential students about your application. You may want to consider seeking feedback about your application from a mentor or trusted colleague before submitting your packet for admission. Please be aware that we routinely receive applications for potential students with significant ministry experience and/or 1-2 units of CPE. Applicants may not be interviewed who are underqualified, or who offer minimal responses to the essay questions.
CPE is an educational program in a professional, clinical environment. Therefore, we screen potential students for their capacity to participate in intensive Clinical Pastoral Education with peers, educators, and professional chaplains. Students must be able to self-reflect, receive feedback, communicate effectively in English, and provide spiritual care to diverse Veterans in a secular, government institution.
It may be helpful to speak with a chaplain mentor, faith group leader, or Spiritual Director who has completed CPE. We are looking for candidates motivated to become professional chaplains, or seeking to complete CPE for their professional development. We do expect applicants to have limited hospital chaplaincy experience, and to have goals for learning about clinical chaplaincy. You may want to consider reading Clinical Pastoral Education: A Survival Kit, by Brenda Wallace or How to Get the Most out of Clinical Pastoral Education: a CPE Primer, by Gordon Hilsman.
Applications are received on a rolling basis, until all positions are filled. The program begins reviewing applications for the next fall in January and interviews begin as soon as possible thereafter. Once the positions for the upcoming program have been filled, your application may be held on a waiting list or considered for the next available program.
The weekly schedule for the residency is Monday-Friday, with an eight-hour tour of duty, usually 8:30 am- 5:00 pm. The Residency group meets for two days each week. Residents meet with the Educator once a week for an hour, and the remainder of their time (30 hours/week) is spent in clinical time, visiting patients, leading Spirituality groups, writing chart notes, interdisciplinary team meetings, and meeting with staff. The Fellowship generally has two group education days and the remainder of the time is spent in individual educational assignments, clinical time, visiting patients, leading Spirituality groups, writing chart notes, interdisciplinary team meetings, and meeting with staff.
Every CPE unit includes 300 clinical hours and 100 educational hours. Residency units are full time, 40 hours/week for 12 weeks, with clinical breaks between units when students can take breaks for leave. Overnight on calls or night hours are not required.
VA New York Harbor has three locations, the Manhattan Medical Center, the Brooklyn Medical Center, and the St. Albans Community Living Center (CLC). Each location offers different clinical settings, you and your Certified Educator will work together to select a location that best meets your learning goals. The Residency group days are usually at the St. Albans CLC. Fellowship group days may also be at St. Albans, or they may be at the other sites as training needs require.
CPE Residents and Fellows are paid a stipend through the VA Office of Academic Affiliations. The amount increases slightly each year. For FY 2023, the resident stipend is $34,700 and the fellowship stipend is $37,600.
Full time Residents and Fellows qualify for health benefits and may choose from several health insurance options. Residents and Fellows will accrue both Annual Leave (13 days) and Sick Leave (13 days) which students can use in consultation with their Certified Educator and as needed. Residents and Fellows will also receive all Federal Holidays off. Students using public transportation may also apply for Transit Benefits, which subsidize the use of public transportation.
There is no application fee or tuition for CPE in the VA.
Housing is not available. The Cafeteria and Canteen offer lunch options at reasonable cost at all three campuses, and there are small refrigerators and microwaves available within the Chaplain Service at all three campuses for those who prefer to bring their own food.
- Residency: Applicants must have U.S. citizenship and a Masters of Divinity from a school recognized by the Department of Education, or an M.Div. equivalent, as defined by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc: BCCI Professional Chaplains Education Standards. Applicants must also pass a background check and if male, must have registered for selective service. Ordination or ecclesiastical endorsement, at least one year of ministerial experience, and a previous unit of CPE is preferred.
- Specialty/Fellowship: In addition to the requirements for Residency, applicants must have at least four previous units of CPE. A prior residency is preferred.
The residency program is designed for in-person, hands-on learning. CPE is an experience of providing ministry in the hospital setting under supervision. There are programs that allow for telecommuting and online participation. You can learn more about programs that offer online options at: www.acpe.edu.
An extended unit is a part-time CPE Intern unit in which the standard 400 hours of clinical and educational time is “extended” over 20 weeks. Group education typically occurs on one day at VA NYHHS, although the start date and meetings times are determined by the Educator conducting the unit. Over the 20 weeks, interns meet with the educator once a week for an hour and work 15 hours/week in their clinical assignment(s) visiting patients, leading Spirituality groups, writing chart notes, attending interdisciplinary team (IDT) meetings and meeting with staff. In Extended CPE, clinical time with patients can be adapted to work around the intern’s schedule. Extended students do not receive a stipend, and may be non-citizens with permanent residency (green card) status. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree, although some theological education is preferred. The VA NYHHS is not currently offering extended CPE.