Hospital Chaplains: A Calling to Care
by Caesar Rentie
Vice President, Pastoral Care Services
Methodist Health System
At Methodist Health System, we take our mission — to care for the entire person, body, mind, and spirit — to heart. As hospital chaplains, we have the special opportunity to extend our care to the hospitals’ patients, their families, our staff, and those in the communities surrounding each of our hospital campuses. Working within a diverse setting, we don’t emphasize one denominational message over another. Rather, we serve people of many faiths and denominations.
Methodist began in 1924 with the vision of Methodist ministers and the support of the Methodist church, local congregations, and others. Our foundation is built on ministering to and caring for people’s spiritual needs. While we’re a Christian umbrella and founded by a Christian church, as hospital chaplains our goal is to meet people where they are, regardless of their faith traditions.
We are careful to not push our own faiths. Instead we try to use our skill sets, training in theology, and real-word experiences to sit beside patients and their families and help them draw upon their own strengths. Perhaps the most important thing we do is listen. We listen to where people are and help them access their own faiths, whatever that faith is, so we can provide the support they need to cope with their situations.
There’s no question that at times our work is emotionally draining. In our effort to offer empathy, we often get close to our patients, their families, or our staff. Each individual has a unique story, and with that our chaplains help to carry that emotional weight. We see our role as individual callings to offer our services to the world — it’s our calling to care.
One of the first steps of healing is to name or verbalize the challenges. That means helping others voice the pain, speak to the fear, and remain present with those feelings even though it may be uncomfortable or sad or scary.
At the end of the day, we’re human too, and working in a hospital is naturally stressful. While we’re here for our patients and families, we’re here for the staff and each other as well. Certain events trigger more stress for our staff, such as when something unexpected happens to a young person, a baby is critically injured, or a shooting occurs.
As caregivers, we instantly identify with the individual’s plight, and that produces stress within ourselves. We work with staff to help them manage through those pain points. Confidentiality is at the heart of what we do, and that allows individuals to open up and vent without fear of consequences. We feel privileged to sit in a unique place that allows our co-workers to share feelings freely and safely. And we value the trust that staff places on us when they need support.
If you’re looking for a place where caring extends to the body, mind, and spirit, then look no further than Methodist Health System. For chaplain or other positions available at Methodist, visit Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.
© Methodist Health System