MSHA senior chaplain earns board certification


The Rev. Debbie Shields, senior chaplain, Spiritual & Pastoral Care, Mountain States Health Alliance, has earned board certification from the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). 

The APC has a rigorous board-certification process, standards of practice and a code of ethics. They want to articulate to other disciplines the rigor of their training and the many interventions they provide. “People think we just say a few prayers. But we also help the person find a sense of hope to pull them into the future while navigating the now. No other discipline is trained to do this like chaplains,” said the Rev. Jon Overvold, chair of the APC’s Commission on Quality in Pastoral Services, which drafted the standards. 

APC-certified chaplains are trained in cross-cultural approaches to health care, especially end of life. End-of-life issues are complex, requiring difficult decision-making often in limited time frames. A large part of those decisions are drawn from our cultural and faith backgrounds. These backgrounds can be very diverse. Medical and end-of-life decision-making is very different for people of different faiths. A trained chaplain is not just aware of the present clinical situation; he or she is also extending a listening ear to how a family is going to be affected in the future. APC chaplains are also a help to the hospital itself. They provide support to direct care staff as they face difficult situations. They provide leadership and participation in committees. When management is grappling with difficult decisions, a chaplain is trained to listen and support the effort to be who we say we are, as individuals and as a corporation.
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