During training as a student chaplain, one of the most important stage of the training is attending a practicum. A practicum is where the students get attached to particular field of their interest. The field might be concerned with people. But for those who do not wish to work with people, there are practicums that will enable the student chaplain to work with the environment or even animals. Though these are not a necessity for ordination, they are most helpful in the development of the student chaplain’s interaction with the people with whom they interact with. This report will mainly feature clinical pastoral and chaplaincy activities which are concerned with the needs of the medically ill. During this practicum, the student chaplain learns different ministerial skills which will enable them to assist the patients and their families alike to be in a position to maximize on their own spiritual resources from within. Clinical care and counselling is also part of this practicum and it plays a very significant role to both the patients and their families.
In order to be a chaplain in a medical institution, one must be able to interact with the patients from different divides including race, religion and social backgrounds. They should be in a position to carry out basic spiritual care, chaplaincy and counselling skills for application in their duties as the chaplain. The idea is to use the church ministry context in the execution of the clinical instructions on the patients. Being a chaplain to the ill is no different from being a chaplain to the well, only that the ill patients do have some special needs which need to be factored in when giving them the care and attention that they require. The different backgrounds of various types makes it even more challenging and the task of guiding and counselling may just require some sort of skills in order to be carried out.
Clinical Pastoral and Chaplaincy Practicum
The patients usually have different special needs among them spiritual needs, religious concerns and sacramental and denominational needs. Within these are included the aspects of searching for hope and meaning in life while admitted in the hospital, dealing with loss and grief and the suffering and agony that the family is undergoing because of the admission and illness of one of their members, in some cases, celebration of the cure and healing of their once admitted family member and gratification of the same and searching for ethical decisions during treatment, for example giving or discontinuing some forms of treatments like blood donation among others.
Some of the areas that require attention include family and culture origin. Different people come from different areas of the globe and they have different cultural practices that they follow. A good understanding of these cultures will enable the student chaplain to be in a very good position to administer to the patients in the right way. The dynamics of the family are also an important aspect in that the family beliefs and practices ought to be considered for clinical chaplaincy.
As for the religious needs, these are like the normal person’s requirements. They need to be taught the scriptures with attention to reading and understanding of God’s Word as written in the Bible. This will build on the prayer and faith aspect of the patient and their families. They also are taught on forgiveness and reconciliation, something which is the pillar of Christianity. Though a very difficult thing to do, teaching is even harder but eventually it is done. In times of joy, God is celebrated and thanksgiving moments dedicated to Him because it is His doing, Grace and Mercy that enables healing. It instils a culture of thanksgiving and accountability to the patient and family, to always rely on God in everything, and that prayer and faith are important in life.
Other specific and denominational needs include the sharing in the Holy Communion. While admitted in the hospital, the patient is unable to attend church to partake of the Holy Communion with the other congregants. They may therefore request to have it in the hospital hence, the chaplains action this. Other services carried out by the chaplain include baptising and blessing, anointing the sick among others.
The underlying factor is the use of the scriptures in ministering to the sick and the admitted. Effectively, the use of discussion groups and classes plays an important part. Here prayer, scripture readings and teachings, sacraments and other religious resources are used for ministering. Peer evaluation and periodic reviews are carried out, and these help in assessing the patients’ spiritual growth and understanding of their faith. In order to verify that the patients are really on the right course, feedback tools are employed as a means of gauging their progress and identifying the weak points and difficult areas that need more attention.
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Interaction between the patient and the chaplain is also an important factor that needs consideration. The work of the minister or chaplain becomes more effective and efficient with the relationship between the chaplain and the patient being better. Hence one of the goals is to establish a good relationship by the chaplain in one way or another, mainly by focussing in the areas of interest to the patient, thereby making them more comfortable and at ease. The work of the chaplain mainly is to ensure that the patient enshrines the Christian principles on their own volition without any imposition. This is because faith is a decision to be made individually and cannot be forced on anyone. It becomes more interesting and better if both the patient and chaplain are on the same platform and share the same interests.
The assurance that God is the same in all situations can be a real difficult task for the chaplain to undertake, but if the patient is a believer, then faith will come into play and the belief in God will be made even stronger. Clinical Pastoral and Chaplaincy Practicum therefore enables the student chaplain to learn all these and thereafter apply them in their task as a hospital chaplain or the equivalent. Without this kind of training, then their work will be a very difficult one.
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