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2014 Annual Leadership Awards

Congratulations to Christina M. Puchalski, Bonnie J. Meyer, Russell N. Myers and Milton P. Snyder, APC® leadership award recipients for 2014. Awards were presented on June 21, 2014 at the 2014 APC® Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA during the Grand Banquet and Member Recognition Luncheon programs.

In addition, the Oskar Pfister Award, given by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in collaboration with APC, was presented to C. Robert Cloninger at the APA Institute on Psychiatric Services meeting on May 5, 2014 in New York.

We extend our gratitude to these individuals for their contributions to professional chaplaincy and the Association of Professional Chaplains®.

Distinguished Service Award
Christina M. Puchalski MD FACP

PuchalskiThe Distinguished Service Award is given to an individual and/or organization who may or may not be a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains, and who either has exemplified or promoted the standards of professional chaplaincy. Our recipient for 2014, Christina M. Puchalski MD FACP, not only supports and promotes chaplaincy but also exemplifies our professional standards. Her pioneering work has had a major impact on medical education, professional education and clinical programs in the US and internationally.

Board certified in internal medicine and in palliative care, Dr. Puchalski is a professor in the Medicine and Health Sciences Department of George Washington University
in Washington, DC. In 2001, she founded the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health and now serves as its director. The FICA spiritual assessment tool she developed is widely used in clinical settings.

The Summer Institute of GWish has become an important training resource for physicians, chaplains and other members of the medical team in learning how to integrate spiritual care in health care. SOURCE, the resource pages of the GWish website, is a respected source of information about the integration of spiritualty and spiritual care into health care. Under Dr. Puchalski’s direction, GWish is changing the face of health care through these and other innovative programs for all members of the multidisciplinary team.

Dr. Puchalski is well-known for the set of consensus conferences she has co-led. The first conference in 2009, “Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care,” gathered 40 representatives from multiple disciplines including professional chaplains. Conference organizers aimed to identify consensus-derived care guidelines and a model of interprofessional spiritual care recommended for palliative care. The resulting model, published both as a journal article and a book, “Making Health Care Whole,” featured the professional board certified chaplain as the spiritual care lead on the team. This important work led to two subsequent consensus conferences, “Creating More Compassionate Systems of Care,” (2012, Washington, DC) and “On Improving the Spiritual Dimension of Whole Person Care: The Transformational Role of Compassion, Love and Forgiveness in Health Care” (2013, Geneva, Switzerland). The conferences centered on approaches to integrating spirituality into health care structures at all levels and developing a strategy to create more compassionate systems of care. These conferences have already produced consensus agendas for clinical practice, education and research in this area.

Anton Boisen Professional Service Award
Rev. Bonnie J. Meyer DMin BCC

MeyerThe Anton Boisen Professional Service Award is given to a board certified chaplain who has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in professional chaplaincy and made unique contributions to contemporary chaplaincy care. This year, we honor the Reverend Bonnie J. Meyer, manager of Pastoral Care and Bereavement at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI. As chaplain, bereavement counselor and director of Bereavement and Spiritual Care, she has made significant contributions to chaplaincy not only within her agency but also the wider profession.

Chaplain Meyer developed a unique numerical scale to assess the risk of spiritual suffering in hospice patients and introduced it to HOB staff in 2008. Over time, the scale was tested and refined. From the start, it has been part of chaplains’ documentation in the patient medical record. It assists chaplains in determining pastoral needs and frequency of visits, and allows them to provide a spiritual assessment that is quickly and easily understood by interdisciplinary team members.

Chaplain Meyer’s unique assessment tool quickly attracted the attention of various hospice and palliative care organizations, and she began providing workshops and training on the use of the scale. Recently, the EPIC health care software company obtained permission to offer what is now titled the “Meyer Risk of Spiritual Suffering Scale” to its clients. The tool is also available on the resources webpage of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

In 2013-2014, she served on the APC Standards of Practice Hospice and Palliative Care Task Force and on the Hospice Task Force in 2013. In addition, she was the section leader, Spiritual Caregiver Section of the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals (a function of NHPCO) from 2011-2013. In 2006-2009, she was a board member of Faith in Action.

Chaplain Meyer’s dedicated service is perhaps best known by colleagues on the local and individual level. “She single-handedly encouraged and enabled six of our chaplains to become BCCI® board certified in the last three years. She made space, physically and with her time, to coach and give feedback throughout the various steps of certification - going well above and beyond the call of duty,” recalls a colleague. “She avidly supports continuing education for chaplains... and she encouraged our own publication and research.”

With a doctor of ministry from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL, Meyer was board certified by BCCI® in 2000. Endorsed by the Unitarian Universalist Association, she is an affiliated minister of St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church, Cincinnati, OH.

Outstanding Local Leadership Award
Russell N. Myers

MyersThe Outstanding Local Leadership Award is given to a member in good standing who has exhibited outstanding dedication to and promotion of APC through active involvement at the local level. For 2014, APC presents this award to Russell N. Myers, who served APC as Minnesota State Representative from 2004-2008, Minnesota State Advocacy Chair from 2003-2004, and Membership Committee member from 2011-2013.

Known as the “go to” person in Minnesota, Chaplain Myers has advocated for chaplains, created opportunities for growth and made a positive difference in professional chaplaincy. He created an e-mail network for Minnesota chaplains, which fosters discussion, job searches and awareness of continuing education opportunities. In addition he was instrumental in organizing quarterly networking and education events in Minnesota. He is a leader, mentor and facilitator, helping chaplains make important connections with colleagues and interdisciplinary partners. Chaplain Myers co-created a chaplaincy course at United Theological Seminary in St. Paul and is now cooperating with representatives from APC and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education to develop a concentration in chaplaincy at United based on the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains, board certification competencies and current best practices. In addition, he is leader, researcher, writer and presenter in the relatively new field of EMS chaplaincy.

Says a colleague, “He has contributed consistently and considerably to professional chaplaincy in this state and nationally. He is an excellent colleague, clinical supervisor and researcher. He also continues to seek ways to advocate for APC. All of this renews him in his clinical work.”

Russell N. Myers is a chaplain at United Hospital and Allina Health EMS in St. Paul. A BCCI® board certified chaplain endorsed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he also serves on the Institutional Review Boards at US Oncology and Mary Crowley Medical Research Center, and is a member of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Critical Incident Stress Management team. He received his doctor of ministry degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Retired Chaplain Award
Rev. Dr. Milton P. Snyder BCC

SnyderThe Retired Chaplain Award is given to a retired member who has made significant contributions in retirement to the field of chaplaincy care or to APC as an organization. Our recipient for 2014 is The Reverend Dr. Milton P. Snyder BCC, who has provided leadership and dedicated loyalty to our profession and to our membership organization throughout his career and into retirement.

An APC honorary life retired board certified chaplain, Rev. Snyder was granted board certified status in 1970 by the Association of Mental Health Clergy, a predecessor organization of APC. Active and involved in AMHC and the profession, his contributions were recognized with the Anton T. Boisen Award in 1992, two years after his forced
retirement from Central State Hospital, Midgeville, GA, at age 62 due to state budget cuts. But his ministry was far from over. For the past 22 years of “retirement,” Rev. Snyder has served where needed and when called. All of his retirement work was done from his home base in Midgeville, with the support of his wife, Betty, as he drove or flew to each location.

He was called upon to help establish, rebuild or transition nine medical centers in Georgia, West Viginia and Florida. He also continued supervising clinical pastoral education interns and residents, surpassing his 50th anniversary of this important work. Another contribution to professional chaplaincy from Rev. Snyder to was to his denomination, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He and his wife are both leaders in the CBF nationally and in Georgia. As a member of a task force formed to explore the endorsement of CBF chaplains and pastoral counselors, he enlisted the help of colleagues he’d connected with over the years. Together, they created an endorsement process and structure true to CBF and soon the number of endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors exceeded 500.

“His years of service have touched and guided hundreds of women and men in ministry,” says a colleague.

“It is difficult to discern when his formal career ended and retirement began,” says another colleague. “He has campaigned for informed sensitive spiritual care and built a lively legacy of caregivers who claim him as teacher.”

Oskar Pfister Award
C. Robert  Cloninger MD PhD

CloningerC. Robert  Cloninger MD PhD is the Wallace Renard professor of psychiatry, professor of  psychology and genetics, and director of the Sansone Center for Well-Being at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, MO. He received his BA with high honors and special honors in philosophy, psychology and anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. He received his MD from Washington University in 1970 and received honorary doctorates from the University of Umea in 1983 (MD in Genetics) and the University of Gothenburg in 2012 (PhD in Psychology).

His recent books include Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being (Oxford University Press), Origins of Altruism and Cooperation (Springer), and Personality and Psychopathology (American Psychiatric Press). Dr. Cloninger has received the American Psychiatric Association’s Adolf Meyer Award (1993) and Judd Marmor Award (2009), as well as lifetime achievement  awards from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (2000) and the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (2003).