Chaplain Interns at KP Walnut Creek

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A diverse group of five chaplain interns have graced our hospital hallways providing comfort and spiritual care for the past 11 weeks.  This select group of interns has been engaged in a fully accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program under the guidance of Director of Spiritual Care Jurgen Schwing, M.A., BCC (Board Certified Chaplain) through a satellite agreement with Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

“It has been a life-changing experience–on a personal level and a mystical level,” said Rev. Felicia Parazaider , a recently ordained minister, who plans to become a chaplain.

The chaplain interns work 40 hours per week spending three quarters of their time with patients on the hospital floors, providing 24/7 coverage of both AMC and WCR. Our five interns have put in a total of 2,200 hours, learning what it takes to be a hospital chaplain and providing spiritual care in a hospital setting. They respond to the needs of patients, family and even our own staff to answer questions, assess spiritual needs, offer resources, build a spiritual care plan, assist in a code blue or sit with the dying.  They collaborate with the medical teams and document in KP HealthConnect.

One quarter of their time is spent in learning activities. As a group they check in about their experiences and analyze conversations that provide feedback about needs and responses. Working together, they learn the skills needed to be a hospital chaplain. Not all congregational clergy can handle the important task of dealing with pain, sickness and end of life issues.

The chaplain interns come to this program with a variety of backgrounds - some are already ordained ministers and some are working towards that goal. They all express gratitude for the “great honor to meet patients and journey with them” and appreciate the warm welcome from staff, physicians and patients.

“Chaplaincy draws you out of yourself and makes you aware of what you bring into a room like preconceived ideas and personal baggage,” said CPE intern Jeff Johnson. “It challenges you be a better minister and pushes the boundaries of your own theology to accept different faiths in a spiritual way.”

A powerful moment came for chaplains as they prayed over a 91 year old patient who would have died alone – her husband was in hospice and she had no family. The medical team had done all they could do. The chaplain interns provided comfort and care that complimented the care of the medical team as she passed away.

So as they leave Diablo in pursuit of their individual goals, we thank them for the compassionate care and comfort they have provided here in Diablo. We will miss their generous spirits and smiling faces. We wish them the best and are grateful they could join in our journey even if for a short time.

Write up originally appeared in KP Walnut Creek Newsletter, August 15, 2012. 



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