Pay to Work?!?

Silly me. Having finished up an MDiv at a Roman Catholic school of theology and ministry and having completed two years of supervised pastoral formation (SPF), I decided to do a third year of SPF on my own and participated in a remarkably rewarding 10-week intensive unit of clinical pastoral education in a local hospital. It was the crown and the epitome of pastoring.

As I mentioned, the experience was unparalleled. (Although the supervision part left a great deal to be desired and the colleagiality of my fellow chaplains was a bit bizarre, to say the very least, but I thought of their sociopathologies as part of the training.)

I was generally setting up my day by about 7:30 a.m. and generally didn’t leave until after 5:00 p.m. in order to finish my charting and referrals. Sometimes, I’d put in 12-hours and more just to ensure that the patient or the family were not left in the lurch and to ensure continuity of care.

Then I came across the article The “Great American Internship Swindle” in Newsweek. It’s an article specifically on interns and intern abuse. Only then did I give a thought to the $750.00 I dished out to work as a chaplain intern.  I also learned that the hospital was paid or reimbursed for providing spiritual care. I made some inquiries with several agencies, including the hospital, to verify that they received reimbursement or payment of some sort for chaplain services but no one seemed to want to answer my question.

It comes rather as a surprise that given the “training” content of the internship, the pastoral care work that was done, and the fact that residents and other pastoral care staff were all paid to do what I was actually doing, that we should still have had to subsidize the opportunity to work for the hospital.

Any thoughts or shared experiences would certainly be of interest to me and our readers.


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