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Pastoral program helps students better care for people of different faiths

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Posted: Saturday, November 7, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:10 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

In the hardest situations for those who are hospitalized, their service goes beyond religion and touches into spirituality.

Ministers, outreach individuals, caregivers and community members spend 38 weeks learning about the human condition in Metroplex Hospital's Clinical Pastoral Education program.

The CPE program cultivates an interfaith environment for students to improve pastoral care, develop interpersonal communication skills and managing various situations learned through classroom lessons and real-life situations.

The program reaches deeper than religion to allow students to understand people of different faiths or no faith and cultural backgrounds.

The 38-week program focuses on pastoral reflection, formation, competence and specialization, which enables students an opportunity for self-reflection as a person to an individual in crisis, the awareness of his/her pastoral identity, learning new skills and ministering to individuals in "end-of-life situations."

H.K. Ballard, pastor of the Troy Church of Christ, said the program allowed him to enhance his ministry in the church. "I'm not confrontational and this program teaches you how to do that," Ballard said. "I call it care fronting – caring enough to confront."

The program is facilitated by Theodore Stewart from Huguley Memorial Medical Center in Fort Worth.

"(Stewart) saw a difference in me," Ballard said. "I'm a fixer. I've been that way with my family; I've been that way with my ministry, and in realized there are some things I can't fix." "This is one thing that CPE helped me to understand, and what I can do is be there with the patient or the staff."

Students spend a specific amount of time in the classroom and participating in interpersonal time for the students to get to know each other better.

Outside of the classroom time and homework assignments, the students are required to complete 300 hours on the floor in their specified areas within the hospital, which includes a 24-hour on-call shift once a week.

One of Ballard's areas was the emergency room.

Through his assignment to the emergency room, Ballard said he learned that being there helped patients as well as staff at the hospital. "I developed ties with the workers - they're under tremendous pressure," he said.

Metroplex offers two units in the CPE program. A bachelor's degree in any field is required for those who wish to further their education in clinical pastoral education, Guadjardo said.

The closet residential programs for CPE are Scott and White Hospital in Temple and Huguley Memorial Medical Center in Fort Worth.

MORE THAN RELIGION With patients from different cultural backgrounds and faiths entering the hospital every day, students have the task of being impartial and respectful to each individual, regardless of the student's religious beliefs.

"Sometimes our own theology can get in the way of serving others," said Chaplain Jaimie Guajardo, director of the CPE program.

"The diversity of religion gives the opportunity to reach people wherever they are spiritually. It's not about religion. It's about the spirit." "There are times I have dealt with people of different faiths and religions and I would respect that and this class taught that and to respect and try to honor their requests," Ballard said.

Director of Maternal Child Services, Carolyn Lockridge, said the students in the program have aided her and her staff immensely.

"We deliver babies and though a majority of our babies have really good outcomes, occasionally we have situations when the outcome is not so good," Lockridge said.

While hospital staff work to ensure the health and safety of its patients, when tragedy hits, CPE students and hospital chaplains can be called upon to provide spiritual and religious services.

"It's very difficult to have to deal with a patient because we have the nursing side of it to try to deal with when there's a loss," she said. "But it's that spiritual side of it and emotional side of it that can be difficult for nurses, and I'm grateful for Chaplain Jaime and his crew."

"All of the staff doesn't feel

comfortable praying with patients and we have someone to come in," she said about the students and chaplain handling bereaved patients.

Lockridge said she hopes one day a bereavement program will begin at the hospital to help families and caregivers dealing with losses.

Ballard continues to utilize the skills he's learned through the program through Lifeline Chaplaincy. Lifeline Chaplaincy provides ministerial services to those seriously ill and to their families and caregivers.

Ballard said he works at Scott and White Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Hospital and King's Daughters Hospital through the Lifeline Chaplaincy program.

Guadjardo said he learned "my patients are my best teachers." "I learned to be patient with others and that people are teachable, even the most stubborn person."      

Contact Alicia Lacy at alacy@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476.

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