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Clinical Pastoral Education

UCSF Medical Center's Spiritual Care Services provides professional education in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in a clinical setting under the guidance of certified supervisors. The program, established in 1961, is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

Chaplains provide spiritual support to patients, family members, friends and staff members at UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus, UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. An integral part of our health care team, chaplains representing many faiths are available around-the-clock to be a caring presence, offer spiritual and emotional support, and listen with openness and understanding.

Theological students, ordained clergy, members of religious orders, and qualified laypeople learn to minister to patients and their family members, as well as staff, in crisis situations. Students perform pastoral services, participate in seminars, study written case studies and relevant readings, and write reports.

Chaplain interns gain insights and understanding by viewing complicated life situations from different viewpoints. Theological reflection is important as chaplain interns seek ways to integrate theology with life experience.

The average CPE group size is six to eight people. We encourage and value diversity and aim to attract students from various backgrounds and cultures.

Levels of CPE:

We offer three levels of CPE training:

  • Level 1 CPE — This level of CPE is for all people who are taking their first unit of CPE. Interns have the opportunity to learn about CPE, make self-discoveries, take risks in initiating relationships and giving critique, and identify personal strengths and weaknesses inherent in pastoral functioning. Level I CPE units are offered in the fall, winter, spring and summer.
  • Level II CPE — Level II CPE includes developing pastoral reflection, pastoral formation, pastoral competence and for some people, pastoral specialization. Level I CPE must be completed before beginning Level II CPE.
  • Supervisory — Supervisory training is available for people who have completed the objectives of Level II CPE and are interested in certification as a CPE supervisor.

CPE Schedule:

CPE units are offered on a full time and part time basis. We also offer yearlong programs to students who would like to complete units consecutively. This program begins in the fall and finishes at the end of the summer.

The full time CPE program requires 40 hours each week for three months. The program runs Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Each chaplain serves as the duty chaplain once per week, which includes sleeping overnight in the hospital.

Program Fees

The fee for the first unit of CPE is $600. The second unit is $500. Each additional unit is $400. There is a non-refundable deposit of $250, payable upon acceptance into the program. Fees are used solely for the ongoing costs of the CPE program, which includes quarterly and annual accreditation and certification fees.


There is a stipend available for people who are participating in the yearlong program. The stipend is $1,958 per month. Basic medical insurance is provided. There also is provision for four weeks vacation, which can be taken during breaks between units or after the summer program ends.

CPE Director

The Rev. Dr. Michele R. Shields is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and has been an ordained minister since 1981. She earned an undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal, a M.Div. degree at Boston University and a D.Min. degree at Drew University in Madison, N.J. She is a certified supervisor with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and a board certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains. She is endorsed by the United Methodist Church to serve as a chaplain in general hospital and veterans hospital settings. She served as a local church minister for 10 years and served five hospitals as a chaplain prior to joining UCSF.

Related Information

Contact Us

Clinical Pastoral Education
Rev. Dr. Michele Shields
(415) 353-1941

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