Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Murphy receives Anton Boisen Award

At its recent annual conference, the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) presented its 2018 Anton Boisen Professional Service Award to Patricia Murphy, PhD, BCC, who is Associate Professor in the Departments of Religion, Health, and Human Values and Psychiatry, as well as Staff Chaplain in Psychiatry, at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. The Boisen Award is presented to APC board-certified chaplains who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in professional chaplaincy and make unique contributions to contemporary chaplaincy care.


For the past two decades, Pat has been the chaplain for adult in-patient psychiatry at Rush where she leads twice-weekly spirituality discussion groups. Her care is marked by compassion, patience, and deep respect for how her patients do not let their illness prevent them from finding meaning in Pat Murphy receives Anton Boisen award from APCtheir lives. Pat’s clinical work, contribution to the education of Psychiatry residentsand research about religion and mental illness were recognized by an appointment as an Associate Professor in Rush’s Department of Psychiatry. She is one of the few chaplains in the country to have received such recognition.


For two decades, Pat has combined her work as a mental health chaplain with involvement in the Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values research program. Her research has focused on a number of topics, including the role of religion/spirituality in coping with mental illness and in living with cancer. In recent years Pat’s research has also focused on describing the prevalence and correlates of religious/spiritual struggle and on designing methods to help healthcare colleagues effectively screen for religious/spiritual struggle among patients in a variety of clinical contexts. An area of recent research has been chaplaincy education and research literacy education for chaplains. Pat’s research has been published in 19 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters; her work has been cited in over 350 other publications.


Sharing findings from her clinical work and research has been an important part of Pat’s career. She has made invited and peer-reviewed presentations at many regional, national, and international meetings. She has been a frequent presenter at the annual meetings of APC and NACC. Pat has been teaching research literacy to chaplains since 2004 and, along with George Fitchett, is widely recognized as a leader of the popular APC Webinar Journal Club (WJC). That series began in 2010 and just concluded its eighth year. During that time, Pat co-led almost 40 WJC sessions.


Her colleague George Fitchett, DMin, PhD, BCC notes that “among professional chaplains, the past two decades have been marked by recognition of the importance of research for the future of the profession. During that time, Pat has played a significant role in the development of research-literate chaplains and a research-informed approach to chaplaincy. In light of her significant contributions to one of the most important developments of our profession it is exciting to see Pat receive APC’s Anton Boisen Professional Service Award.”

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