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50th Anniversary of Certification Interviews

by William John Kouth RBC ACPE Supervisor Emeritus

APC Forum, February 2020, Vol. 22 No. 2

from Bulletin American Protestant Hospital Association:
Post-Convention Issue, Spring 1970



In 1970, I became a Fellow in the College of Chaplains, a personal membership division of the American Protestant Hospital Association (APHA). At that time the College, on a trial basis, initiated personal interviews as a part of the certification process.  Prior to this, certification was by paper review. The personal interviews were successful and became a standard requirement for certification.

I was one of the first to be certified under this process. The Bulletin of the American Protestant Hospital Association (APHA) reported on this new process and featured a photo of my certification interview at Methodist Hospital of Indiana (MHI) in Indianapolis. I received Certificate #760 at the APHA Convention in Washington, D.C. that March. (My wife, Mary Sue Sturgeon's 1993 Certificate is #2468)

This is my account of my Certification Interview:
The Committee met in the Buchanan Pastoral Counseling Center at MHI and then called me into the room. Those present were:
-Ken Reed, PhD. Director of Pastoral Services at MHI, Fellow, College of Chaplains (FCOC), ACPE Supervisor and Diplomate in The American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC);
-Malcolm Ballinger, my ACPE Supervisor, FCOC, Certificate #6;
-Charles Phillips, FCOC and Executive Director, College of Chaplains;
-Curlie Johnson, FCOC and Director of Pastoral Services at Winona Hospital in Indianapolis;
-Jack Hahn, President of MHI, Past President of APHA, Past President of the American Hospital Association;
-James Donahue, M.D., Psychiatrist and Psychiatric Consultant for the Buchanan Counseling Center;
-Margaret Beard, MSW, Director of Social Work at MHI and Consultant for the Buchanan Counseling Center;
-Two local United Methodist pastors.
-There may have been one or two others, perhaps medical doctors.

I was interviewed by the committee and then asked to wait outside while they deliberated. They called me back to the room and said that the committee approved my application “on a split vote.” Ken Reed asked if I had anything to say and I declined. He asked, “Not even 'Thank you'?” I said, “I would feel more like saying thanks if it had been a unanimous vote.” One member said had I responded like that in the interview, there would have been some changed votes.

In the years that I supervised CPE students and have sat on COC/APC certification reviews and Advanced CPE reviews, I encouraged two procedures:

I have advocated for applicants to invite one or two persons as non-voting participants in the review. This could be a pastor or a member of the healing team: nurse, social worker, physician, administrator, etc. This may ease the applicant's anxiety. It can educate professionals from cognate groups concerning the importance, value, and professionalism of chaplains.

I have advocated for giving applicants the option of staying in the room while the committee deliberates. This is best done by raising the issue with committee members before the interview and then deciding at the end of the interview whether the applicant will be invited to stay. If the committee agrees, the applicant is then given the option to stay or leave the room. I value this honest, transparent and professional approach.
- Jack Kouth
William John Kouth, M.Div.
Retired Ordained Elder, The United Methodist Church
Honorary Retired Life Member, The Association of Professional Chaplains
Supervisor Emeritus, The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.