July 23, 2018

Mapping Chaplain Diversity

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Mapping Chaplain Diversity

Rev. Marilyn Barnes (Advocate Health Care), Wendy Cadge (Brandeis University), Rev. Kelsey White (Norton Healthcare)

Funded by ACPE

Mapping Chaplain Diversity aims to understand the demographics of American chaplains and the extent to which those demographics align with the general population. In her 2012 book Paging God, Dr. Wendy Cadge found that chaplains were more likely to be white and Protestant than the rest of the U.S. population, raising questions about pipelines into chaplaincy and whether certain groups are being selected out to the detriment of the profession. Mapping Chaplain Diversity will establish the present state of chaplain demographics in ACPE, enabling educators to understand who is being trained and how their training translates into eventual chaplaincy practice.

The diverse United States population is changing in many ways – including steep growth in under-represented demographic groups. As the population changes and shifts, so does the population seeking healthcare and utilizing health services. The religious composition of the US population is shifting, as well. A 2014 Pew Forum report noted significant decreases in those who believe in God, pray daily, consider religion important, and attend services at least monthly. Across all measures of change, the profiles of people both using healthcare organizations and those working within them are shifting rapidly.

As the professional group most responsible for responding to people’s religious and spiritual needs in healthcare, little is known about the demographic profile of chaplains and how it relates to national population shifts. While chaplains can and do care for people who are different from them, apparent differences between chaplains and the general population raise questions about the pipelines into chaplaincy and whether certain groups are being selected out in ways detrimental to the profession.

This project is running until December 2018 and is supported by an Innovative Program grant from ACPE. It asks how ACPE educational centers are thinking about diversity among chaplains in training and what, if anything, they are doing to diversify the profession. It asks also whether pipelines for training exist that cater to individuals who identify as non-white, non-male, non-Protestant, or young? Diversity and inclusiveness is a hallmark priority of ACPE, yet it is unclear how actually diverse are chaplains, ACPE supervisors, and training programs .