By Mary Davis, NACC Certification Commission
Recording your continuing education since your certification or last renewal period is an opportunity to demonstrate how you continue to meet the current NACC Standards and competencies.
Whether you record your hours as they happen or work from a stuffed file when your five-year mark comes near, your best bet is to keep the NACC Certification Standards on hand to categorize your coursework. Keeping the Standards’ sections in mind and referring to them regularly will assist your integration of them into your professional practice as well.
Recording your hours as they occur or planning the type of education you will seek in a given year is the optimal way to be intentional about your learning and ensure a balance in your activities. You can easily see by midyear if you already have an overabundance of education related to pastoral competence, for example, and note that you need more specific education related to theory of pastoral care. You can then seek out suitable presentations, webinars, readings, DVDS, or workshops on related competencies.
When the Certification Commission reviews renewal packets, we notice that many chaplains struggle with where to record certain educational activities, and some continue to include activities that are not reflective of the Standards. For instance, most people put any type of retreat under the Identity and Conduct section. However, the retreat may have focused on spiritual dimensions of human development (302.3) or highlighted one of the Catholic social teachings (302.21). In that case, the Theory of Pastoral Care section might be more appropriate. Some persons include attending Mass, going to symphonies, or doing nature walks. While these activities are no doubt conducive to well being, they are not likely to fit the important question of “Was it of an educational value to your ministry?”
The section that seems most challenging for persons seeking renewal is Identity and Conduct (NACC 303-303.9). Educational experience related to professional ethics, pastoral identity or pastoral authority, self-reflection, wellness, advocacy, pastoral qualities (enhancing your strengths as a minister), and personal spirituality experiences would fit well here. Retreats and spiritual direction are only one dimension of what can be included in the Identity and Conduct section; be creative in seeking educational experiences in the next few years that will expand how you demonstrate these competencies!
Discussing the meaning and effectiveness of your continuing education hours is one aspect of your five-year peer review. You can discuss how to gain more balance, and ideas about new opportunities can become a recommendation for the future. You can also set your own goals for working on educational opportunities for a specific section that has not been easy to obtain in the past, or competencies that have been added since your original certification.
Many educational experiences are available through webinars, audioconferences, and educational presentations offered by professional chaplaincy organizations and major healthcare systems – particularly if local availability of workshops is limited and travel is challenging. No matter how you obtain your required continuing educational hours, be intentional about tying them to the recommendations received in your last interview or peer review session, and to the current NACC Standards. Your integrity and professionalism will be greatly enhanced, benefitting not only yourself but the people of God whom you serve as well.
- Certification Procedures Manual, Part Two, CP21-232.9 (for specifics related to documenting continuing education hours)
- NACC Standards for Ethics, Certification and Renewal of Certification, Standards 306-306.5 (for standards correlating to the Continuing Education Hours Form)
- Frequently asked questions about NACC Certification
- Frequently asked questions about Renewal of Certification