For Patients

Clinical Pastoral Education Program

What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an interfaith, professional ministry education program, which brings students into a supervised setting where they encounter people in need of care. Through extensive engagement with people in need of care and reflection with peers and teachers, students develop awareness of how their personhood influences the care they provide. Students also develop spiritual care skills, which help them to identify the hopes, needs and resources of the people in their care.

Through reflection on particular human situations and relationships, students deepen their competency in ministry. CPE is an educational process of spiritual formation for the purpose of becoming an effective spiritual caregiver. Working within the interdisciplinary team process with staff chaplains, nurses, social workers and physicians, students develop skills in interpersonal and professional relationships.

Essential elements of CPE

  • Spiritual Care with people in crisis

  • Learning through the process of action and reflection

  • Learning goals based on the student's learning needs

  • Written theological reflection and evaluations

  • Peer relationships in a shared learning experience

  • Individual and group supervision

Why take CPE?

CPE is often a required component of one's preparation for ministry in many denominations and faith groups. Many students take one unit of CPE to fulfill this requirement and go on to be parish pastors, missionaries or a member of a religious order.

Many others take at least four units of CPE as part of their training and requirements to become a board certified chaplain. Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Supervisory CPE working toward certification as a CPE supervisor.

Why take CPE at St. Joseph Hospital?

St. Joseph Hospital has a long history of providing quality CPE training for over 35 years. We are accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) to offer Level 1 and Level 2 CPE, as well as Supervisory CPE. As part of St. Joseph Health, students in our program have the opportunity to learn in a variety of settings including: St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA; St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA; Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA; and St. Mary Hospital in Victorville, CA.

St. Joseph Health is a Catholic health system with a reputation for excellence in medical and spiritual care. We are a culturally and religiously diverse community guided by the core values established by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange: Dignity, Service, Excellence and Justice. Our spiritual care team strives to provide care with humility and respect for the social locations and faith traditions of those we serve. Our CPE students are guided in this approach, even as they develop a deeper understanding of their own faith and cultural uniqueness.

Full-Time CPE

The Summer Intensive Unit is a full-time unit requiring 40 hours a week of participation over the course of 11 weeks. Students work Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and have additional on-call duties.

Extended CPE

The spring and fall units are part-time units requiring approximately 30 hours a week of participation over the course of 16 weeks. Students have one class day a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which is approximately 20 hours of clinical work per week with additional on-call duties. Each unit has a requirement of 400 hours:

  • 300 hours - clinical hours (time in the clinical setting)

  • 100 hours - group supervision with your peers on specific days and individual supervision with the supervisor

Supervisory CPE

Supervisory education is limited to applicants who have completed Level 1 and Level 2 CPE (four or more units of CPE) as positions become available. Supervisory CPE is a full-time commitment over the course of several years with the goal being to become a certified CPE supervisor. Ask our CPE Supervisor for more information.

Admission to St. Joseph Hospital CPE

Our center is committed to giving fair and thorough consideration to all qualified applicants. We select students who are seminarians, clergy and lay persons with consideration of aptitude for learning, capacity for self-reflection and potential for ministry without regard to age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religious affiliation or sexual orientation.

Most successful applicants have already begun graduate theological education or other specialized training in their respective religious traditions. Tuition for a Summer Intensive or Extended Unit of CPE is $625. Tuition for Supervisory CPE is $200.

Clinical Pastoral Education Schedule 2017

Fall Extended Unit: Sept. 12 - Dec. 30, 2017 (FULL)

Winter/Spring Unit: Jan. 29 - May 18, 2018 (Now accepting applications)

Apply six to eight months in advance as positions are limited for each unit. For further information and application materials contact the Spiritual Care Department at 714-771-8137.

Mailing Address

St. Joseph Hospital
Spiritual Care Department
1100 West Stewart Drive
Orange, CA 92868


One West Court Square, Suite 326
Decatur, GA 30030

Phone: 404-320-1472

Fax: 404-320-0849