Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a “learning by doing” ministry under Association for Clinical Pastoral Education supervision in an accredited CPE center. The student gains experience and skills in pastoral care while being closely supervised and participating in integrative educational classes.

Intern units – Spring, summer and fall

Intern CPE: 400 hours of training as an unpaid student chaplain. Spring and fall units are 25 hours per week for 16 weeks. Summer units are 40 hours per week for 10 weeks.

One-year residencies – three CPE units

Resident CPE: An employee on a one-year stipend who takes three additional CPE units.


The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) is nationally recognized as an accrediting agency in the field of clinical pastoral education by the U.S. Secretary of Education through the U.S. Department of Education. Norton Healthcare is accredited by ACPE.


The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program is open to seminary and divinity school students, clergy and qualified laypersons from any religion or faith group. Growth in pastoral reflection, pastoral formation and pastoral competence is the expected outcome.

CPE is theological and professional education for ministry. Students acquire pastoral skills and grow in their pastoral vocations in a clinical setting under certified ACPE supervisors. CPE emphasizes the integration of pastoral ministry, theology, psychology and other behavioral sciences. Norton Healthcare’s unique setting offers CPE students the widest range possible of pastoral experiences: from prenatal care for mother and baby to care for the aged; from newborn crises, pediatric trauma and chronic illnesses to cancer, heart disease, surgeries and bereavement care. The organization’s facilities serve people encompassing a full range of religious, cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. Norton Healthcare’s CPE provides enough variety of in-depth pastoral experiences and guidance to touch and influence the rest of each student’s ministry.

During CPE’s dynamic and experiential educational process, students provide pastoral care to patients, families and staff, and then reflect on these interactions with peers and their supervisor. Each participant will develop learning objectives relevant to his or her needs. These objectives are addressed through direct pastoral care, seminars, case conferences, interpersonal relations groups, individual supervision, weekly written reflection and assigned readings.

The program seeks to help students understand how their personal history and faith tradition affect the nature of the pastoral care they offer. Participants learn to increase their pastoral effectiveness through personal growth and the development of professional competence.

CPE at Norton Healthcare continues the tradition of caring and preparation for ministry that is at the heart of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education’s mission. CPE at Norton Healthcare gives students the opportunity to:

  • Develop and clarify pastoral identity
  • Recognize strengths in ministry
  • Develop skills in crisis ministry
  • Develop skills in grief counseling
  • Minister to the needs of hospitalized persons and their families


Norton Healthcare is a not-for-profit, five-hospital system in Louisville, Kentucky. The downtown hospitals include Norton Hospital for adults and Norton Children’s Hospital, Kentucky’s only full-service, free-standing pediatric hospital and trauma center. Norton Hospital is known for its cardiology and orthopedic care. Both hospitals are affiliated with the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Norton Audubon Hospital is known for its cardiology services and has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the region.

Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital is known for its oncology services and women’s services, with nearly 6,000 babies born there each year.

Norton Brownsboro Hospital opened in 2009. It is an innovative model hospital for the best in patient-centered care, medical technology and a healing aesthetic, including large patient rooms, gardens and a labyrinth.

Norton Healthcare has a rich history of ecumenical and community support. Individual hospitals were founded by various faith groups: Norton Hospital by Episcopalians; Norton Healthcare Pavilion (formerly Methodist Evangelical Hospital) by the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ; Children’s Free Hospital, a predecessor to Norton Children’s Hospital, was founded by women of a Presbyterian Church; and Norton Audubon Hospital (originally St. Joseph Infirmary) by a Roman Catholic religious community. This history expresses itself in the present commitment to pastoral care and clinical pastoral education.

CPE students have opportunities to serve in all Norton Healthcare hospitals. A major strength of the CPE program is the diversity of ministerial experiences offered. The culture of each hospital presents its own unique learning opportunities.

Norton Healthcare CPE mission

The mission of the Norton Healthcare Clinical Pastoral Education Program is to use our multifacility hospital setting to educate and train pastoral practitioners to be competent, caring, integrated professionals, able to self-evaluate, reflect theologically and consult while providing spiritual care to patients, their families and staff.

Norton Healthcare Pastoral Care mission

The mission of the Norton Healthcare Pastoral Care Department is to promote spiritual health and initiate timely, competent, compassionate and, as appropriate, confidential spiritual care to patients, their families and staff, and to provide training in the caring art to pastoral practitioners.

Norton Healthcare mission

Norton Healthcare’s purpose is to provide quality health care to all those we serve, in a manner that responds to the needs of our communities and honors our faith heritage.

Norton Healthcare values
  • Respect every person
  • Set the standard for quality and caring
  • Continually improve care and service
  • Demonstrate stewardship of resources
  • Accept accountability for results
  • Succeed with integrity

This program is accredited by:
Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Inc.
1 West Court Square, Suite 325
Decatur, Georgia 30030
(404) 320-1472

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