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updated: 8/6/2012 6:42 PM

Advocate Condell's Clinical Pastoral Education students connect physical, spiritual care

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Josh McColough

Advocate Condell Medical Center recently celebrated the completion of its first Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. The first class, which started in June, had five participants who engaged in a twelve-week intensive experiential program designed to introduce pastors and theology students to healthcare ministry.

The inaugural class at Condell had five participants: Rev. Dr. Armando (Bob) Aquino; Jim Fisher; Judy Fitchett; Anne Munley and Virgil Pop. The five students come from a variety of religious backgrounds, and are from the Chicagoland region.

"Our students must learn spiritual assessments, attentive listening, family and social dynamics, and ethical issues--and they need to be able to assess themselves and understand how they function as a professional chaplain. So there is a focus on both the 'self' and 'others,'" said CPE Supervisor Rev. Rose Bryan, M. Div., RN. "The students function as part of a care team. They minister to patients and family members who are experiencing an entire range of physical and spiritual crises."

For many in the CPE program, this is their first experience interacting with patients and families who are in need.

"As a theology student, the CPE program is getting me out from behind the book," said CPE student Jim Fisher, who is currently pursuing his Masters of Divinity at Chicago Theological Seminary. "It was about interacting with patients and really seeing how theology works and is applicable to the world around us."

In addition to interacting with patients, CPE students work closely with one another, sharing their experiences and connecting them to the theology that they have studied.

"One of the important lessons I have learned from Advocate Condell's CPE program, is that we are a team, and in healthcare being a team is the important part," said Judy Fitchett. "We all have learned from each other's experiences at Condell."

CPE students are exposed to a variety of clinical settings. "We make sure that our students go wherever they are needed throughout the hospital. That includes the ER, OR, OB units--anyplace there is a need," said Bryan.

Advocate has numerous CPE programs throughout the Chicagoland area, but the program was new to Advocate Condell this June and with Advocate Good Shepherd in Barrington is only the second CPE program in Lake County.

The CPE program is open to people of any religious background and to both lay and ordained religious workers. Copy/paste this link into your browser for a brief video interview with Rev. Rose Bryan, Judy Fitchett and Jim Fisher on Advocate Condell's CPE experience: For more information on the program, visit