Genesis to Launch Chaplain Residency Program
The Rev. Young-ki Eun, Genesis clinical
pastoral education supervisor, will lead the
Quad Cities’ first hospital chaplain residency
program. The program will give full-time,
yearlong training to six residents, enabling
Spiritual Care services at Genesis to expand.
The Genesis patient has just learned her prognosis. Alone in her hospital room, her mind reels with fear, complex medical terms, and grief for the loss of her health.
It’s a stranger, a hospital chaplain, who offers to listen. The chaplain is a quiet presence and source of comfort for this patient who must come to grips with her uncertain future. At the moment, the chaplain gives her what she needs most -- the gift of his time.
For years, the chaplains of Genesis Health System have helped patients, families and caregivers through the joys and sorrows that accompany hospital life.
Soon, that journey alongside patients will expand with the launch of the Quad City area’s first hospital chaplain residency program. The Genesis Clinical Pastoral Education Residency Program will give full-time, yearlong training to six residents, beginning Aug. 25.
Filling a need
The Rev. Young-ki Eun
Spiritual Care -
Clinical Pastoral Education
1227 East Rusholme St.
Davenport, IA 52803
Fax: 563 421-7979
View the Genesis CPE Schedule
Leading the program will be the Rev. Young-ki Eun, who has recently arrived at Genesis with a wide range of experience as a chaplain and pastoral educator. Most recently from New York, he was drawn to Genesis for its strong values, spiritual heritage, and dedication to a mission to provide “compassionate, quality health services to all those in need.”
“I feel very fortunate to have found a health system that still has such a strong emphasis on spiritual care,” the Rev. Eun says. “The value of spiritual care at a hospital is so important; it’s where patients seek comfort at critical times in their lives. The gate to spirituality opens even more during times of crisis.”
Residents of the Genesis inaugural program will undergo three full units of accredited clinical pastoral education -- the majority of which will be spent in clinical ministry to patients, their families, and hospital staff.
“It can be very helpful to patients going through a crisis when a chaplain is present, listening and understanding,” he says. “Our approach is very sensitive and respectful to patients. Sometimes they want to talk about their struggles. Other times, they may want to be alone. We let them know of our availability should they want our support. In this context, our program emphasizes pastoral relationships and integration of head and heart.”
Rev. Eun was a professor of English in his native South Korea when he decided to embark on a second career and study for his Master’s of Divinity at the University of Toronto/Knox College. Since then, he has had a variety of pastoral ministry and teaching experiences, including at New York Presbyterian – Columbia University Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, MA.
He considers it a privilege to help patients in times of need. Along the way, these experiences have taught him a lot about himself, too.
During his childhood, he suffered from polio and experienced a lot of pain and emotional suffering. He still walks with a slight limp.
“I used to ask God, ‘Why me?’ My question was met with silence. I experienced a long, deep grieving process until one day in my mid-40s, I discovered my perception of my weak left leg had slowly changed. I came to realize that my leg had in fact supported me all along my journey and will always sustain me with resilience and strength.
“After that, I could see the bigger picture. I believe God answered me in silence, so I would be able one day to empathize and walk with others who are hurting and wounded.”
His own personal experience has helped him understand the importance of honoring the patient’s struggle. “It’s not always about doing...it’s about respecting the dignity of the human soul and honoring patients at that moment.”
As a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor, he has a passion for empowering students to forge and strengthen their own personal and professional identity in an authentic, diverse and trustworthy learning environment, he says.
With religious roots that go back 145 years, Genesis’ legacy of care has evolved from its predecessors -- from the Episcopalian roots of St. Luke’s Hospital and the Catholic heritage of Mercy Hospital. That heritage is still reflected today at Genesis, where professional chaplains provide a caring presence with the support of interns from the Genesis Pastoral Education Program, trained volunteers called Befrienders, and local clergy.
“The chaplain residency program is another way we continue to honor the predecessor hospitals that formed us and is a natural progression of our commitment to education and chaplaincy,” says the Rev. Becky David, who is director of Spiritual Care and the health system’s mission officer.
“We are able to not only provide spiritual care, but train people to provide it in a compassionate and comprehensive way. When people come out of our residency program, they will have the training they need to be considered for certification as a hospital chaplain.”
The program will fill a niche not offered in the region; the closest chaplain residency program is in Des Moines or Chicago, she says.
The chaplains-in-training will provide support to a Spiritual Care department that serves many roles, including responding to all deaths, traumas and other code alerts; providing grief support, sacramental services, and crisis intervention; or, helping patients dealing with spiritual struggles. In an equally important role, it also tends to the spiritual needs of Genesis caregivers who are on the frontlines of patient care.
The residency program expansion was born out of the challenge to create a five-year plan that cut costs while also improving Spiritual Care services. With the addition of six full-time residency interns per year, Spiritual Care will be able to increase services across the growing health system without adding costs. Medicare “pass-through payments” for clinical pastoral education will help offset the cost of the residency program.
Rev. David concludes, “We are one of the rare health systems that has embraced this part of our mission. At Genesis, Spiritual Care is integrated and recognized as a legitimate and important part of the health care team and that’s unusual.”
View the Genesis CPE Schedule.