Clinical Pastoral Education - Frequently Asked Questions

CPE is experience‐based theological education and pastoral formation for seminarians, clergy, and lay persons of diverse cultures, ethnic groups and faith traditions. In CPE you join other women and men who are currently in ministry or are preparing for it. Some may be healthcare professionals who come to CPE to enhance their work pastorally. Most are Christian, but CPE welcomes qualified persons across faith traditions.

First of all, clinical describes the basic methodology of CPE: reflecting on experience. You may call it process education; you begin with experience, reflect on it, and act. “What did you learn?” is a common question in CPE. Secondly, clinical refers to your ministry site, which can be at Mercy Springfield or Mercy Oklahoma City for residency or the summer intensive. For extended CPE, options are available through out the Mercy system in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. With approval from the CPE managers, it is also possible for you to arrange for a ministry site in your area and participate in classroom education by video conference. At your clinical site you provide pastoral care which is a key component of your learning.

CPE at Mercy has been accredited since 1974. The program is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), making it one of some 350 ACPE‐accredited CPE centers in the United States. Mercy’s CPE program is accredited to offer Level I and Level II CPE as well as Educator CPE.

According to Standards, a unit of CPE is at least 100 hours of structured group and individual education. Each unit shall be accompanied by supervised clinical practice in ministry. The combined time shall be no less than 400 hours.

Within any unit of Level I/Level II CPE you will be part of a peer group (minimum of three but usually more) who learn from case studies, critique and feedback on your practice of ministry. Peer groups also critique each other’s verbatims, which are word‐by‐word reviews of a pastoral visit. You work with a qualified supervisor who is first and foremost a pastoral educator, a companion in your own pastoral formation process. This educator has pastoral experience and a Master of Divinity or the equivalent. By certifying as a CPE educator, he/she has pursued three to six years of post-graduate work.

Students meet with their CPE educator for about an hour during which they discuss ministry events, personal issues, theological questions, peer relationships, or any other experiences that might have an impact on their ministry and/or their pastoral identity.

Mercy is accredited to offer Level I ‐ II and Educator CPE:


  • Level I CPE – addresses the fundamentals of pastoral formation, pastoral competence, and pastoral reflection through one or more CPE units. Satisfactory achievement of Level I outcomes is a prerequisite for doing Level II CPE.
  • Level II CPE – addresses the development and integration of pastoral formation, pastoral competence and pastoral reflection to a level of competence that permits participants to pursue professional certification as a chaplain and/or admission to Educator CPE.
  • Educator CPE – addresses the development as CPE supervisor in integration of Supervisory theory and practice, following the educational contract and format of Mercy CPE.

Mercy offers CPE in four formats:


  • Residency, 12-month, full-time program, designed for persons preparing to become professional certified chaplains, planning to pursue Educator CPE, or are seeking advanced leadership and pastoral skills for ministry. Four units of CPE
  • Summer unit, full time over 11 weeks, designed primarily for persons seeking ordination in their denomination, but not limited to seminarians. One unit of CPE
  • Extended unit,  part time over 17 weeks or 9 months with clinical placement at a Mercy facility, designed primarily for persons exploring chaplaincy as a possible career, seeking ordination in their denomination, or desiring to hone their pastoral skills. One unit of CPE
  • Virtual unit, , limited spaces are offered with summer and extended units as places are available after positions at Mercy facilities have been filled. Students arrange their own clinical placement with approval from the CPE Educator.

The extended units run over 17 weeks or 9 months. The 17 week units require 6 hours of educational time per week, individual supervision, and an average of 18 hours per week of patient care. The 9 month units require 3 hours of educational time per week, individual supervision, and an average of 8 hours per week of patient care. Patient care is on site at a Mercy facility

This is a full time 11-week program. Group and clinical work and individual supervision will be Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The student will also work with a staff chaplain on a pre-determined number of weekend days, evening, or nights to provide pastoral care throughout the hospital.

The residency is a 12-month, full time program. Group and clinical work and individual supervision will be Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students also provide weekend and night coverage in rotation with staff chaplains. Preference on selection will be given to students who have at least 36 hours of theological education toward a master’s degree, or the equivalent combination of apprenticeship/mentoring and experience according to their faith tradition that would meet standards for board certification.

Mercy currently offers 4 positions in Springfield, 4 in Oklahoma City, and 4 at Mercy South in St. Louis.

An on-site interview is preferred. Arrangements can be made for a video interview.

Ordination is not required. Since Clinical Pastoral Education is a graduate-level program, preferred applicants will have completed a bachelor’s degree and at least half of the coursework for a master’s degree appropriate for chaplaincy (theology, pastoral ministry, divinity, etc.). For spiritual traditions with leadership development based in apprenticeship or mentoring, educational equivalency that will meet standards for board certification will also be considered. For all CPE programs, the Mercy Pastoral Education Center looks for applicants who are active and rooted in their faith tradition and who have been in service in some way in their local faith community.

We accept international applicants in the residency and virtual programs. The deadline for international applications for on-site residency is one-year prior to the start of the unit so that we can assist with the application for a J-1 visa. Students maintaining residence outside the U.S. may also apply for the virtual program. 

Second year residency for current Mercy residents are considered case by case. We do not currently accept new admissions to a second year residency. You may be able to find an offering through the ACPE website, www.acpe.edu

The first day you will join new Mercy coworkers for orientation to the ministry, history, and values of the organization. You will receive orientation to your clinical site from department staff before you begin to see patients on your own.

There is a $25.00 non‐refundable application fee to be sent with the application. Tuition for each unit of CPE is: Residency – per unit $400, Summer Unit - $500, Extended - $500, Virtual - $1200, Employee - $400. An application fee is not required for virtual students since we cannot guarantee that a position will be available. Tuition for each unit of CPE is: Residency, tiered from $400 in unit 1 to $100 in unit 4. Summer and extended units $500. Virtual unit $1200. Current Mercy co-worker $200.


For the summer and the extended unit there is no stipend. The CPE Residency pays a stipend, computed at $17.50/hr. subject to state and federal withholdings. CPE residents also receive benefits at the same rates as other Mercy coworkers. A person in Educator CPE receives Mercy coworker benefits and earns a salary in the range for chaplains at Mercy.

At the present time, we have none available. You may be able to find financial support through your faith community.

The following websites provide information that can be downloaded:


Information can be downloaded from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) website at www.acpe.edu.

You can download an application and directions from this website.  Applications are preferred via email at [email protected]. Send application fee to:  


Mercy Hospital-5H
Attn: Michelle Barone
Pastoral Education Center
1235 East Cherokee
Springfield MO 65804
e-mail: [email protected]


If you have questions regarding the application process, please send an email to [email protected]. Your question will be forwarded to the appropriate educator.


When your application has been received, it will be reviewed for completeness and quality. If deemed appropriate for the program, you will be contacted for an interview to:

  • Explore further what you have written in your application materials
  • Answer your questions about CPE and specifically about the program at Mercy
  • Discern whether this program is a good fit for your learning interests.

We prefer to received applications by email at [email protected]. Please follow up with your application fee by US Mail or deliver it in person. We cannot accept electronic payments or credit cards at this time. Your application will not be considered complete until the processing fee has been received.  

Residents do their clinical work at Mercy Springfield, Mercy Oklahoma City, or Mercy South in St. Louis. Summer interns and extended interns can be placed at any hospital in the system where the student will have an appropriate mentor. Virtual students work out an arrangement with the CPE educator for their clinical site.

At times it is possible to do some of the clinical hours at a place other than Mercy, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include a site placement agreement, on‐site mentoring by a qualified individual(s), visits of the CPE Educator to the site. The details of such an arrangement are individualized to the situation.

Mercy’s CPE program itself does not have housing, but we will work with a person to identify area possibilities.

The CPE curriculum at Mercy is designed with both APC and NACC Standards in mind, as well as those of the accrediting body, ACPE. When you successfully complete a residency at Mercy, you have at least four units of CPE, which are required for certification. Alumni of Mercy’s program have successfully achieved both NACC and APC chaplain certification.

As in most fields, the answer is mixed. If you are willing to relocate, you will have more possibilities. People who complete Mercy’s residency program have a good track record on employment.

There are many educator positions that become available every year across the USA. You may have to relocate. Mercy educators will support Educator CPE students at the end of their program with their job search with contacts, resume and cover letter review, and coaching.

Mercy’s CPE program is accredited through:

ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education
1 Concourse Pkwy, Suite 800
Atlanta, GA 30328 

(404) 320-1472
Email: [email protected].
Web: www.acpe.edu


Contact for Information

Email us: [email protected]

Mercy Springfield
Susan Buchanan
Manager of Pastoral Education

Mercy Oklahoma City
David Kilpatrick
Certified Educator Candidate

Mercy St. Louis
Allison Wible
Certified Educator Candidate

Mercy South (St. Louis)
Roman Kozlov
Certified Educator Candidate

Ministry Office
Sam Naidoo
Director of Pastoral Education