by Kathleen Gallivan, SNDdeN, PhD, director of Spiritual Care Services

Spiritual Care Services team members

Spiritual Care Services team members

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chaplaincy Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Like all of health care, Chaplaincy has undergone remarkable changes over the years – our most recent one being our name change. In response to a national movement and to align ourselves with the nomenclature used in Partners eCare, we changed our departmental name to the Spiritual Care Services Department earlier this year.

When Rev. William Leach, an Episcopal priest, was hired in 1965 as the first full-time chaplain at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, religious care for patients was mostly provided by local clergy who would come from their own congregations to visit patients. Much has changed in recent decades.

Today, chaplaincy is a profession that requires rigorous training. Chaplains are required to complete a 1600-hour post-master’s degree internship or residency before applying for national board certification.

Thanks to strong administrative support, BWH chaplains are all highly trained and well-integrated into patient care. A chaplain is in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. While trained as interfaith chaplains, our staff consists of men and women from various religious traditions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu – all of whom are able to meet the faith-specific needs of our patients, families and employees.

Supporting the educational mission of the hospital, BWH offers a nationally accredited Clinical Pastoral Education training program and is one of only a few chaplaincy residency programs in New England. These programs prepare the next generation of professional chaplains in clinical settings.

A special grand rounds will be held in the spring to celebrate our 50 years at BWH and to honor our chaplains, volunteers and all who contribute to our work.