Women Chaplain Career Questions

by Kubarii A. Fernandez
(Rialto, CA)

Women Chaplain Career Information Needed

As a woman interested in becoming a chaplain, how do I get the right training to become a chaplain?

Women Chaplain Employment Question

To help me understand women in chaplaincy, I have just one basic question regarding the employment opportunities for women chaplains.

Just what does a woman chaplain do?

Women As Chaplains

Great question and I can imagine there might be some snide remarks that a woman chaplain can do anything a male chaplain can do, only better!

On a serious note, chaplains are chaplains, both men and women. In my own faith community, a chaplaincy career is one of those ministry career positions that is wide open to women.

of course, ours, like many denominations, attempts to make it difficult for women to enter professional ministry, and we even ordain women.

What I mean is that even though we ordain women, my faith group does so primarily if a woman serves first as a local church pastor.

The challenge is in actually doing so because it is difficult in some church settings for a woman to be called by a local church as pastor.

I believe chaplaincy to be a fulfilling God called ministry for women as well as men, I have long proposed to our church leaders that there be a chaplain track to ordination, whether for women or men.

My purpose is not to quibble or argue as to ordination for women but to just say that if a woman has a call of God to a pastoral care ministry, becoming a chaplain is a very wonderful, purposeful ministry career option.

Therefore our church leaders should make it possible for women to be considered for chaplain employment in a more effective way than it is done now.

Woman Chaplain Job Description

As to what a woman chaplain job description would look like, I checked on the chaplain job board of the Association of Professional Chaplains and found several chaplain job listings.

By the way, no mention is ever made to whether the chaplain is to be male or female, except when a chaplain employment notice specifically says Priest.

Take a look at the job description of this large 851 bed tertiary regional medical center that is seeking a staff chaplain. Whether a male chaplain or female chaplain, they simply say the primary focus will be palliative care.

By the way, I did not know what palliative care meant until my clinical training for certification. It means non curative or non aggressive treatment, something I am very aware of now that I am a hospice chaplain.

Synopsis Of The Chaplain Job Description

Note the job expectations of chaplains that would be true at most hospitals hiring chaplains:

  • The chaplain will work as a member of a pastoral care department serving as the primary pastoral care member of an inter-disciplinary palliative care team.

  • He or she must possess an ability to lead staff in the collaborative care of patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

  • The palliative care chaplain will also participate in doing pastoral care departmental work, such as staff care, on-call services and service as a liaison to area clergy and religious institutions in such a way as to enhance patient care.

  • Chaplains must demonstrate a knowledge of and sensitivity to the diverse faith groups represented in our patient and staff populations and understand how this informs pastoral care.

Chaplain Educational Requirements:

The educational expectations for chaplains are again true for most hospitals hiring chaplains:

  • Chaplain candidates must have earned a Masters level theological degree from an institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

  • Four units of Clinical Pastoral Education that is certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

  • The chaplain must be board certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains or be certification eligible.

  • It is preferred that they have two years of experience as a chaplain in a clinical setting with a focus in palliative care.

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