Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

Clinical Pastoral Education is an interfaith professional education program for ministry.  It brings theology students, ministers of all faiths, and lay people into a supervised training environment where they can gain the skills and experience to minister to those in crisis or need.  Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) combines clinical work in hospital ministry to patients, families, and staff with both individual and group learning, reflection, and feedback.  All this is accomplished with other CPE students and a certified CPE supervisor in a dynamic small group.


Harlan Ratymeyer, Manager of the Pastoral Care
works with residents.

The heart of CPE is ministry with people.  Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister.  Students learn through theological reflection, discussion and evaluation, and they return their learning to future ministry encounters.  Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping and caring for persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and professional relationships.  The focus of learning is on gaining new skills and tools for ministry while identifying one's own strength and gifts for ministry.

All of our CPE programs include the following:

  • Direct patient involvement
  • Ministry with different faith groups
  • Individual learning goals
  • Dynamic interfaith dialogue with peers
  • Individual supervision
  • Peer group relationships and support
  • Didactic learning in a classroom-like setting
  • Experience in crisis intervention and end of life ministry
  • Verbatim (transcribed) reports of patient interaction
  • Spiritual Reflection 

Who participates in CPE?
A wide variety of people participate in CPE for different reasons.  Seminary students often participate in CPE to fullfill ordination requirements.  Ordained ministers or deacons choose to participate to expand their ministry or explore an alternate career.  Chaplains take CPE to increase, improve, and certify their experience.  Finally, qualified lay people utilize CPE as a means of better equipping themselves for ministry or to enhance their nursing, counseling, or teaching careers.  We invite you to explore what CPE might have to offer you.

Why do CPE at Albany Medical Center?
As the region's only academic health sciences center and a Level I Trauma Center, Albany Medical Center's mission is "providing excellence in medical education, biomedical research, and patient care."  The Center's commitment to education, reputation for innovation, and collaborative spirit make it an ideal place to learn and gain skills in pastoral ministry.  As one of many professional training programs at Albany Medical Center, CPE students work in an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment that places value on learning through clinical interaction with patients.  The diverse patient populations and medical conditions served at Albany Medical Center allow CPE students a broad range of experiences that offer a challenging and enriching experience.