Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program - Salem VA Medical Center
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Salem VA Medical Center


Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program

What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

Clinical Pastoral Education is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop a new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs for whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, students gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, students develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships. CPE is designed for people at various stages of life, for example, clergy seeking continuing education, laity wanting to explore/develop themselves as pastoral caregivers, and seminarians preparing for ministry.

CPE in the Context of the Salem VAMC

The parameters of the Clinical Pastoral Education include (308.6):

  1. Essential elements:
  2. The specific practice of ministry to persons (302.2)
  3. Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice of ministry (308.2)
  4. Personal and peer supervision (303.4, 303.5, 308.3)
  5. Individual contract for learning (308.4)
  6. Peer group experience (303.5)
  7. Required time for a unit of CPE (308.1):
  8. At least one hundred (100) hours of structured group and individual education
  9. At least three hundred (300) hours of clinical practice in ministry
  10. Expectations to allow for the reflection and practice of ministry to occur (308.5):
  11. Weekly written verbatim reports
  12. Oral presentation of verbatim each week
  13. Group interaction
  14. Selected readings and reporting, both written and oral
  15. Personal learning contract
  16. Personal supervision - one hour per week with the CPE Educator and resident feedback
  17. Final evaluations for each unit.


Established October 19, 1934
Situated on 223 acres with 25 major buildings
1.435 million square feet

Salem VA Medical Center Programs

  • Specialty Care: Audiology/Speech Pathology Nephrology (Dialysis) Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation
  • Cardiology Neurology Rheumatology
  • Pain Management Program Oncology Sleep Center
  • Dental Optometry Urology
  • Gastroenterology Ophthalmology Visual Improvement Services Team
  • General Surgery Orthopedics Women’s Health Clinic/Services
  • Gynecology Otolaryngology Wound Care Clinic
  • Infectious Disease Plastic/Reconstructive Surgery Telehealth Care for: Dermatology,
  • Interventional Radiology Podiatry Mental Health, Teleretinal
  • Mental Health Pulmonary Medicine
  • Long Term Care: Contract Adult Day Health Care Inpatient Skilled Nursing & Spinal Cord Injury
  • Contract Nursing Home Program Rehabilitation Services Inpatient Respite Care
  • Home Based Primary Care Hospice Palliative Care
  • Mental Health: Alcohol Detoxification Rehabilitation Program Mental Health Clinic
  • Compensated Work Therapy Sexual Trauma Counseling Mental Health Intensive
  • Specialized Inpatient PTSD Unit Inpatient Mental Health Services Case Management (MHICM)
  • Outpatient PTSD Services Individual & Group Therapies

Chaplain Interns minister to all faith traditions in the following settings:

  • Pastoral care
                  Individual Veterans
                  Veterans’ family members
                  Medical center staff

  • Professional help in crisis situations:

                  Serious illness
                  Impending death
                  Hospice/Palliative Care
                  Mental Health
                  Domiciliary Veterans recovering from Substance Abuse or PTSD
                  Women’s health

  • Sacramental Ministry
  • Worship

Within these settings, each unit of CPE requires at least 100 hours of class time and at least 300 hours of clinical work. Whereas class times are fixed by necessity, there is some flexibility in scheduling clinical hours around student’s availability. Summer Interns will complete all of their hours at the Salem VA. Extended Students will complete a portion of their hours at the VA and the remainder at their place of ministry.

Salem VA CPE program is part of a community of learning VA wide.

Instructional Philosophy

We are committed to the development of compassionate and competent spiritual caregivers through an action/reflection/action model that uses the student’s personal identity, family history, social location, and spiritual orientations. Learning to hear deeply the spiritual and religious dimensions of life in moments of loss and grief helps adult learners articulate their own pastoral theology. This reflective process increases self-awareness and develops pastoral skills. By employing a multicultural and multi-faith perspective in an experiential learning environment, each student can develop a unique style of ministry based on the new insights fostered. The goal of our program is to value the experience students bring with them and to mentor each student’s unique path towards growing their pastoral heart while learning the art of spiritual care. The curriculum uses transformative learning as an educational framework and emphasizes visitation skills, reflective listening, spiritual assessment, grief and loss counseling, and non-directive ministry. Educational methodologies include the following: case studies (in a verbatim format), one-on-one education with the CPE educator, mentoring by staff chaplains, and interactive learning within the peer group. It also includes leading religious services and delivering sermons. This learning takes place in our new CPE Classroom located near the main Chaplain Service Office.

CPE Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Information

Instructor/Educator Background

Chaplain Patricia A Roberts, MDiv, BCC
ACPE Certified Associate Educator

Chaplain Roberts completed her BS focused on Psychology and Business from Liberty University. She studied Native American history and law at Oklahoma University but left to enter Seminary. She graduated with a MDiv from Phillips Theological Seminary. She began her Clinical Pastoral Supervisory Training at the Oklahoma VAMC but completed her supervisory Training with the US Army at Brooke Army Medical Center. She has worked in numerous VA hospitals and is currently the Chief of Chaplain Service in Salem. She is Board Certified by the National Association of Veteran Affairs Chaplains and the Association of Professional Chaplain and is currently an ACPE Certified Associate Educator. She is ordained and endorsed by the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. She is married to a local pastor and has one daughter remaining at home.

Instructional Schedule

Extended programs begin in August –Dec and January - May

Applications accepted year round Program contingent upon enough students to offer the unit.

Summer Internship runs each Summer, dates vary please contact the CPE educator for more information


Summer Internship/ Extended Units


  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Successful completion of at least one (1) graduate level course of study in a school of theology or an equivalent
  • Recommendation from faith group
  • Prior ministry experience
  • USA citizenshipPreferred
  • Three-year master of divinity degree or master’s degree in a theologically-related field from an accredited institution of higher learning or its equivalent
  • Ordination or commissioning by faith group
  • Prior ministry experience
  • USA citizenship

Units for Active Duty Military and VA Employees contact Chaplain Pat Roberts at patricia.roberts8@va,gov for an information on current schedule.

How to Apply

A downloadable ACPE-CPE application form in both Adobe Acrobat and WORD can be found at under “Resources” and “Forms.”

Regarding the application essays:

  • Reasonably full account of your life (how did persons and events in your life influence who you are today?): 5-7 pages (single spaced)
  • Spiritual growth and development: 3-5 pages (single spaced)
  • Description of your work: listing is sufficient  
  • An account of a helping incident or verbatim (what does it show about your current view of ministry?): 2-3 pages (single spaced)
  • Impressions of CPE (what do you want to learn?): 1 page (single spaced)
  • Prior CPE finals, if any
There is no application fee or tuition cost for the program

Send completed application in one of two ways:

To apply: send a completed application

By email attachment to

By mail:

Salem VA Medical Center
Chaplain Service #125
CPE Program
1970 Roanoke Blvd
Salem, VA 24153

Upon receipt of the application, the CPE Educator may schedule the applicant for an interview appointment. The interview is about “fit” as a student in a challenging educational process.

Mission, Vision, and Core Values of the CPE Program


To meet the Spiritual Needs of Veterans with Compassion and Skill for the enhancement of their spiritual health and overall well-being


To partner with seminarians and community pastors/religious leaders in meeting the needs of Veterans by providing quality curriculum for Clinical Pastoral Education Residents and single unit Trainees


To respect each human encountered, whether patient, peer, educators, 

Core Values - "I CARE"

  • Integrity: Act with high moral principle. Adhere to the highest professional standards.    Maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom I engage.
  • Commitment: Work diligently to serve Veterans and other beneficiaries. Be driven by an earnest belief in VA's mission. Fulfill my individual responsibilities and organizational responsibilities.
  • Advocacy: Be truly Veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of Veterans and other beneficiaries.
  • Respect: Treat all those I serve and with whom I work with dignity and respect. Show respect to earn it.
  • Excellence: Strive for the highest quality and continuous improvement. Be thoughtful and decisive in leadership, accountable for my actions, willing to admit mistakes, and rigorous in correcting them.
  • Statement of Accreditation

Salem VAMC is accredited to offer CPE (Levels I/II) by the ACPE, Inc.

One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 320 -1472.

Contact Info


  • Chaplain Service
    Building 144

Contact Number(s)

  • 540-982-2463 Ext. 2890

Hours of Operation

  • 7:45am to 4:30pm