APCForum, February 2022 Vol. 24 No. 1
Updates to BCCI Chaplaincy Certification
he Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc.® certification commission met December 7–8, 2021, for two three-hour sessions. At the request of the Anti-Racism Task Force of the Association of Professional Chaplains, our goal was to make our certification process more equitable and to promote quality chaplaincy care by working against dehumanization and injustice of every kind, especially anti-Black racism. Each commissioner brought at least one idea/proposal for a reform to our certification process. In the first session, we gathered forty ideas/proposals. By the second session, we narrowed in on nine reforms to seriously consider. After discussion, debate, and revisions, we came to a consensus on six concrete reforms. We want to share these six reforms with the APC Anti-Racism Task Force and the APC Board of Directors and—with their input/blessing—enact them as soon as possible.
- RUBRIC: We will develop and implement a rubric for all certification competencies. Rather than just a “met”/“not met” assessment on the basis of however a given committee interprets each competency, a rubric would spell out exactly what it takes to demonstrate each competency and would give a finer gradient of feedback to candidates. We believe that moving to a rubric is the highest-priority anti-racism reform we can make, to reduce subjectivity and therefore bias in the evaluation process. We are already drafting the rubric in collaboration with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and Neshama: The Association of Jewish Chaplains (as a continuation of our partnership with the NACC on the Center for Health Organization Transformation study “Professional Health Care Chaplaincy Certification: Exploring Efficacy & Strategizing Future Directions”). But including it in this collection of anti-racism reforms marks our resolve to devote even more attention and resources to this work.
- PIC2: We will change Professional Identity & Conduct Competency number 2 from “Articulate ways in which one’s feelings, attitudes, values, and assumptions affect professional practice” to “Articulate ways in which one’s feelings, values, assumptions, culture, and social location affect professional practice.” Along with a rubric to support this addition, the revised competency asserts that a Board Certified Chaplain must account not only for their individual “stuff” but also for the ways in which larger, systemic influences affect the spiritual care they provide and/or how their particular social identity informs their spiritual care—a best practice of anti-racism and social justice work in general, to hold that everyone has particular social locations and culture, not just “ethnic” people or “minorities,” and to make visible/spoken what is invisible/unspoken (e.g., Whiteness).
- NEW OL COMPETENCY (AND RELATED EDUCATION): We will establish a BCCI task force charged with 1) developing a new, sixth Organizational Leadership Competency about power dynamics and systemic inequities and 2) making recommendations about additional education we need to offer members, candidates, and interviewers so that we can meet, assess, and live this new OL competency as well as the revised PIC2 competency (above).
- A SECOND CHOT STUDY: We will fund another round of the study CHOT conducted, with the goal of identifying any problem(s) in our certification process that we missed by not having a more racially, ethnically, and religiously representative sample of our membership population in the original CHOT study. The initial study included fifty participants, forty-six of whom were White and forty-four of whom were Christian. For this second round, we propose an equal, additional sample of fifty participants stratified so that the total sample of the first round and second round combined—one hundred participants—would more accurately reflect the diversity of our membership.
- CERTIFICATION-INTERVIEW OBSERVERS AND AUDITS: We will establish a BCCI task force to generate a policy for including external observers in at least some certification interviews and auditing some certain past certification interviews. (Criteria for which interviews to observe and which to audit—and/or whether to do so randomly—would be part of what this task force figures out.) Regular audits and external observers promote a culture of quality improvement and accountability (beyond relying on appeals), to identify, prevent, and maybe even remedy biased certification outcomes.
- RENEWED RECRUITMENT OF PEOPLE OF COLOR AS CERTIFICATION INTERVIEWERS: We have a disproportionately White pool of interviewers, which contributes to several dynamics of systemic racism in how we assemble certification committees (e.g., tokenism) and how candidates who are people of color experience our certification process (e.g., lack of representation). We will continue targeted, direct recruitment of BCCs who are people of color to serve on certification committees. We will put a new emphasis on recruiting newly certified chaplains to volunteer as interviewers. When someone declines, we will follow up with a brief question about what makes them decline, so that we might better identify systemic barriers and address them.