A chaplain is typically employed by larger hospitals and healthcare facilities, although they work in other settings (such as the military) as well. The chaplain provides religious counseling and comfort to patients and their families. They work with caregivers and therapists/counselors at these facilities to assist the spiritual needs of anyone requiring assistance.
To work as a chaplain, a person must typically have received a degree in theology within their faith or denomination; chaplains typically are ordained within their faith. With many large hospitals associated with various religious denominations, preference for chaplains frequently is given to those individuals ordained within that group’s belief system. For example, hospitals associated with the Catholic church look to hire Catholic priests, and Jewish hospitals might hire more rabbis. With that said, chaplains need to be familiar with a wide variety of belief systems and be able to offer guidance and comfort as required across this spectrum.
Additionally, many chaplains find utility in receiving formal education in counseling and psychology; many larger hospitals and clinical facilities may prefer their chaplains to have this education to assist in looking after the mental well-being of patients and families. In addition to these educational requirements, chaplains typically need one or more certifications with religious organizations that license individuals to work in this field. The chaplain also must be outgoing, understanding, and possess excellent bedside manner.
- Coordinate spiritual and bereavement services for patients.
- Provide spiritual and emotional help to patients from all cultures and beliefs.
- Assist patients and their families with preparing and dealing with the terminally ill.