Recognizing Success in the Chaplain Profession: Connecting Perceptions with Practice
The current investigation examines the communicative hallmarks of successful chaplaincy work as articulated by professional chaplains providing spiritual care at the end-of-life. Data grounded in qualitative interviews with 32 chaplains of various denominations and lengths of service reveals a challenge in gauging success when working with dying patients and families. Chaplains reported nonverbal hallmarks of success consist of (a) intrapersonal sense of accomplishment, (b) progress in fulfilling patient needs, and (c) meaningful connection with patients. Verbal hallmarks of success include (a) patient affirmation, (b) family affirmation, and the (c) chaplain being asked to participate in religious rites. In practice, the authors conjecture, chaplains assess professional competency in the self, patient, and family domains. Implications and future directions are discussed.