When lives are in the balance and uncertainty overcomes a person, a kind word, gentle touch or whispered prayer can soothe a soul and bring peace. During such moments health care chaplains are at their best. In hospitals, hospices, mental health hospitals and nursing homes, chaplains minister to patients, their families and medical staff through unconditional love, sacrifice and service.
A chaplain may notify family members when a loved one has died. At other times chaplains comfort dying patients, conduct funerals, serve communion, perform memorial services and act as a mediator between medical staff and families. Chaplains also have administrative duties, but their main role is to be an effective witness for Christ.
Health care chaplains must have exceptional people skills, be able to quickly connect with strangers, be self-motivated and able to maintain their spiritual integrity in an often stressful and emotionally draining secular environment.
Chaplains must also be sensitive and respect other people’s faith traditions. In many cases, a chaplain must work with clergy of other faith groups to minister to an individual.
Among other requirements, most health care positions require a master of divinity degree from an accredited seminary.