What to Expect in CPE

Application Process

Application due dates are provided on the application page.  Priority will be given to applications received by this date.  Preference will be given to applicants living in Saskatchewan, those who require CPE as part of a degree program, and those who are working toward professional practice in spiritual care.  Any remaining spots in the program will then be filled on a first come, first served basis. 

CPE is challenging.  If you have any concerns about your readiness for the process, reach out to the Supervisor-Educator to discuss how your previous experiences may impact your learning in CPE.  Past students have noted that they were surprised by the level of sharing and vulnerability that was expected in CPE.  This is part of the learning journey as we also encounter vulnerability in the stories of those to whom we provide spiritual care.  We cannot always know what topics will be challenging and so the CPE process also integrates practices of support, debriefing, and self-care.  It is helpful to ensure you have a strong support network in place and to stay in communication with the Supervisor-Educator about your experiences throughout the application and interview processes and the CPE unit.

Academic Requirements prior to taking CPE

CPE is intended for adult learners.  For basic units of CPE, grade 12 is considered a minimum prerequisite.  The completion of some university education does support a student’s full integration of program requirements.

CPE is taught cumulatively with students who wish to achieve certification as a Spiritual Care Practitioner generally completing two Basic (Foundational) Units of CPE, and then applying for readiness to complete two Advanced (Integrative) Units of CPE.  Advanced Units of CPE have a prerequisite of a Masters degree in theology or a related field.  Academic assessment is available upon request. 

Learning Goals

Students will begin the CPE unit by setting three learning goals specific to individual learning.  These goals will assist students to achieve their particular personal, inter-personal and spiritual/pastoral caregiving objectives, and grow in their effectiveness as spiritual/pastoral caregivers.

Intensive CPE Unit

We offer an intensive unit from May-July lasting for 11 full-time weeks.  We recommend that students create space in their lives to focus fully on CPE since these 11 weeks are truly intense with 200 hours of class time and 200 hours of clinical practice, along with assignments and reading.  There is no extra time for a job or other classes during this unit.  Give yourself time to focus on learning and on self-care since practicing spiritual care can be emotional and exhausting.

Extended CPE Unit

The extended unit is comprised of the same 200 hours of class time and 200 hours of clinical practice.  However, the extended unit is offered over seven months with a weekly schedule of one day of class and one day of clinical practice.  This format allows for part-time work or class schedules, although students are cautioned to leave adequate time for CPE as the level of emotional engagement requires space for reflection and self-care.

Clinical Placements

The majority of CPE students will complete their clinical hours at their learning site, either St. Paul’s Hospital or Santa Maria Senior Citizen’s Home.  In partnership with Sherbrooke Community Centre, some students are able to complete their clinical placement in a long term care setting in Saskatoon.

CPE students at St. Paul’s will be assigned to several hospital wards with opportunity to provide care to patients, family and staff in a variety of areas including medical, surgical, dialysis, palliative care, and ICU.  Acute care settings offer great learning opportunities that are challenging but rewarding! 

CPE students at Santa Maria will have the opportunity to learn about spirituality and aging through caring for residents in 3 and 4 level care, palliative care and those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. A significant component of offering spiritual care in a long term care home is working with an interdisciplinary team, leading religious services and assessing spiritual care needs through ongoing relationships.

On-line Access to St. Paul’s Hospital Extended CPE Unit

The format of the extended unit makes it possible to complete the program from a distance through on-line learning.  Extended CPE units can be accessed through videoconferencing technology for attendance of class days.  Clinical settings must be arranged by the student in their community and in communication with the Supervisor-Educator.  Students are encouraged to attend the orientation week and assessment days in person to allow for peer group development. 

Distance students are responsible for arranging an appropriate clinical placement in conversation with the supervisor-educator.  Host agencies are requested to provide a $1000 fee to the teaching site in recognition of the care provided to their residents by the CPE student.

Peer Group

CPE is experiential learning that takes place in a small peer group with a maximum of seven students plus a Certified Supervisor-Educator.  The balance of clinical placement and class time provides opportunity for praxis: action, reflection, and integration of learning.  The peer group provides a diversity of voices, experiences, and cultural backgrounds and is an ideal space to discuss clinical experiences for reflection, learning, and support.  As with any group, the peer group can also be a space where conflict arises.  These experiences are embraced as opportunity to learn more about ourselves and to strengthen communication skills.

New CPE students are often surprised by the vulnerability that is expected within the peer group.  When we provide spiritual care we invite vulnerability from the people we provide care for.  CPE training also requires vulnerability as we explore our own assumptions and share the experiences that have shaped us.  This process can be both invigorating and exhausting.  You are encouraged to reduce other commitments and have good supports in place while in CPE.

CPE is adult learning meaning that you will get out of it what you put into it.  We recognize that everyone brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to the unit and the learning of the group will be impacted by each member’s commitment to the process.

CASC opportunities

CASC certification as a Spiritual Care Practitioner generally requires four units of CPE (two basic, two advanced) and a master’s degree in a related field.  Many employers in Saskatchewan require a minimum of two units of CPE.

CASC has Regional Admitting Chairs (RAC) in each jurisdiction who assist students in navigating the educational process (RACs are listed on the CASC website).  You can also reach out to your supervisor-educator for assistance. 

Involvement in CASC is a requirement of certification and so within the CPE unit there may be opportunity to take part in the CASC-SK AGM or other provincial CASC events.  Joining a committee is a great way to learn more about CASC and to be part of shaping the spiritual care profession.  Opportunities are also available for continuing education and networking.

Benefits of CPE

CPE is beneficial to anyone interested in spiritual care as a career or as a skill set to further their own volunteering, ministry, or profession.  CPE provides an opportunity to develop self-awareness and clinical skills for providing competent emotional, spiritual, and religious support.  Students develop professional practice skills including confidentiality, ethical practice, boundaries and understanding of safe and effective use of self. 

Job Opportunities after taking CPE

While there are currently no publicly funded spiritual care providers in Saskatchewan hospitals, the profession continues to flourish in Saskatchewan.  Spiritual Care positions exist in many Long-term Care Homes, Emmanuel Care Facilities, and correctional facilities.  Denominational chaplains (financially supported through their religious denominations) are active in Saskatchewan hospitals.  St. Paul’s Hospital has an interfaith spiritual care department that provides spiritual care to all patients inclusive of faith or no-faith. Spiritual care positions are also available across Canada.