Frequently asked questions

About our program

The Abbott Northwestern CPE Program strives to empower students to provide meaningful and effective spiritual care, while strengthening their emotional and spiritual health.

What is clinical pastoral education (CPE)?

Clinical pastoral education (CPE) is a method of theological education by which a student learns spiritual care skills in a supervised clinical setting. CPE seeks to provide a nurturing and stimulating setting for the student to gain self-awareness, spiritual care practitioner identity and competence, integration of theology and practice, and awareness of human worth and potential.

What do CPE students do and learn?

Our students serve as spiritual care practitioners at one of our hospital locations.

They extend spiritual care to people coping with health crises, such as hospitalization, chronic and terminal illness, or the imminent or recent death of a loved one. In doing so, our students:

  • Participate in a wide range of clinical opportunities
  • Reflect and dialogue about encounters with patients, families and staff
  • Learn from and with CPE peers, valuing all perspectives
  • Integrate faith, theology, experience and "soul" into professional expressions
  • Develop collaborative partnerships with physicians, nurses, spiritual care staff and peers as part of the interdisciplinary care model
  • Draw on the latest thinking in behavioral science, systems theory, ethics and value-based decision making

For more information

Call 612-863-1304 or email us at