Updates & Announcements

February 2024 BCCI Update:

BCCI Updates: Rubric & Competency Changes 

 We are happy to announce that a rubric has been developed by a working group of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC), and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC).  The APC, NACC and NAJC share a common understanding of the competencies required for a qualified chaplain to achieve certification as a professional chaplain.
The rubric was prepared by Joel Nightingale Berning, MDiv, BCC, ACPE and has been approved for the Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) competencies of the APC’s Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc. (BCCI). The rubric is intended to be more objective regarding what it takes to demonstrate each competency, give a finer gradient of feedback to candidates, and reduce subjectivity. While not perfect, the rubric works towards mitigating cultural and religious misunderstandings, implicit bias, and systemic injustice in the BCC process.
The process of building the rubric included closely examining each of the thirty-one BCC competencies for clarity of assessment, which led to rewording some competencies, reshaping others, and removing two. The rubric breaks down each of the remaining twenty-nine BCC competencies into specific criteria for each of four levels of functioning. From highest to lowest, these four levels are:

  • Exceeds competency
  • Demonstrates competency
  • Needs clarification
  • Does not demonstrate competency

 Chaplains in training can use the rubric to guide their formation, educators to guide their curricula, certification candidates to guide their preparation of materials, certification assessors/committees to guide their evaluations, deliberations, and feedback, and chaplains after the certification experience to inform their ongoing professional development.
The rubric also offers feedback that is more detailed than yes/no (i.e., met or not). It recognizes competence as a spectrum, not just a binary. For candidates who do not achieve certification, this finer feedback offers greater support for their next attempt and hopefully gives a more specific sense of what functioning/materials they need to develop and how. For candidates who do achieve certification, the finer feedback, especially at the high end of the spectrum, may help them identify their strengths. Crucially, the “Exceeds competency” level interrupts a tendency in certification interviewers to ask too much of candidates: by making explicit what is above and beyond the standard for certification, committees can identify more clearly when they are demanding a demonstration of excellence rather than simply competence.
Below is a link to two documents.  One document simply shows the slight change in verbiage that clarifies the competency. Some competencies had no changes. The other document is the rubric.  The Commission is planning a webinar for later this spring to help raise awareness and educate people on these changes.  We will also have an opportunity to answer questions in person at the Annual Meeting during Annual Conference in June. 

Candidates who have started the application process are being notified of these changes. At this time, the rubric is not being used as the formal assessment tool in the certification interviews but can still be used as a guide to help clarify what we are looking for in the certification process. We will ensure that our members who serve as committee members receive education and ample time to familiarize themselves with the rubric before it is used in an interview. We will communicate with candidates in advance of their interview once we determine an official date to move from the current interview form to the rubric.

Rev. Stacy Auld MDiv BCC
BCCI Representative

April 2023 BCCI Update:

BCCI Update

Happy Spring! I hope wherever you find yourself that you are experiencing signs of new life in big and small ways. I’m encouraged everyday when I get home and see a little more growth on the plants that froze back in February. The green leaves are so bright and vibrant, reminding me that creation continues even when faced with the hardest of circumstances.

Reflecting on the last ten months as Chair of the Commission on Certification, I’m grateful for all of our members who have been giving life to our BCCI program that is designed to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance and designate professional chaplains who demonstrate the knowledge essential to the practice of chaplaincy care. Below are some updates and new opportunities I want to share.

Online Certification Application Portal

We are excited to announce that on March 2, 2023, the online application portal went live. As you engage with candidates seeking board certification, please point them to our BCCI website where they will find video tutorials and step by step instructions on how to submit all aspects of their application online. This is a huge accomplishment and kudos to everyone, especially our friends in the national office, who made this a reality! (BCCI Online Application Process)

Changes to Reinstatement Timeline

After careful deliberation, the Commission on Certification recently voted to change the policy regarding our reinstatement process. Previously, if a chaplain let their certification lapse, they had a 10 year window to pursue and complete a reinstatement process with BCCI. The revised policy now states a 5 year window for this to occur. Additionally, we added that chaplains who wish to reinstate have one year from the date of their reinstatement letter to complete the process. The process on how to request and receive reinstatement has not changed. To familiarize yourself with the reinstatement process, click here. (Section 2. Part 4 updated April, 2023)

New Certification Specialist Application

As we continue to review our certification process, we have seen the value of having members trained as certification specialists. This role came about as we transitioned from area chairs overseeing certification interviews to a more centralized virtual model. We are ready to expand this group of volunteers, in hopes that each interview has a certification specialist serving as the chair of the interview. If you are interested in this position, please click on the linked form to learn more and apply. BCCI Specialist Application

New Rubric for Competencies

A rubric for board certified chaplain competencies has been developed by the “Center for Health Organization Transformation” Working Group of the Association of Professional Chaplains, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. Our own Joel Nightingale Berning, MDiv, BCC, ACPE, prepared the document, which has now been approved by the boards and certification commissions of APC, NACC and NAJC.

This new assessment tool will be used by the certification committee members during the interviews and will be available to candidates as a guide to use as they prepare their written responses to the competencies. Next steps will be to develop training around the rubric for committee members and publishing the information on our BCCI website for candidates to reference.

I look forward to sharing a BCCI annual update at our conference in Houston in June. I also can’t wait to rejoice with those who have received their certification in the last three years and attend the banquet in person. We have a lot to celebrate. Hope to see you at the party!

Stacy Auld, MDiv, BCC

System Director, Houston Methodist Spiritual Care & Values Integration

Chair, BCCI Commission on Certification

BCCI Certification Updates (Archived)

(published in APC Forum, April 2019)

The BCCI Commission on Certification and Board of Directors have approved the following additions to the BCCI Policy and Procedures Manual for Certification. The whole manual will be posted in the coming weeks but these new additions pertain to plagiarism, professionalism and ethics.

Section 1. Part 1(and 2). II. Procedures for Certification….
E. All material submitted by the candidate must be original and written by the candidate.  Plagiarism of any form will not be tolerated.

  1. Plagiarism will be defined as:
  2. Submitting someone else’s work as your own.
  3. Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit.
  4. Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks.
  5. Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation.
  6. Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit.
  7. Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.
  8. Plagiarism will be subject to a review by the APC Professional Ethics Committee in consultation with the BCCI Commission on Certification. If found in violation, the candidate will be withdrawn from the certification process for at least one year.

Section 1. Part 1(and 2). II. Procedures for Certification….
F.  The applicant/candidate will conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, respecting the boundaries and personhood of any BCCI Staff, Commission Member, Area Certification Chair or Certification Committee Member. If at anytime an applicant/candidate acts in an unprofessional, unethical or threatening way, the conduct will be subject to a review by the APC Professional Ethics Committee in Consultation with the BCCI Commission on Certification.
Section 3. Part 1. II Procedures for Committees
W. All committee members will conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, respecting the boundaries and personhood of any Candidate, BCCI Staff, Commission Member, Area Certification Chair or Certification Committee Member. If at anytime a committee member acts in an unprofessional, unethical or threatening way, the conduct will be subject to a review by the APC Professional Ethics Committee in Consultation with the BCCI Commission on Certification.
Section 3. Part 1. II Procedures for Committees
X. If an Appeal has been upheld or if any of the Policies and Procedures for BCCI Certification Committees have been discovered to have not been followed, a review of the committee members will be conducted by the BCCI Commission on Certification. Committee members may be subject to a review by the APC Professional Ethics Committee, as described in Section 3. Part 1.II.X.

Questions or comments on any of these items can be directed to bcci@apchaplains.org.

BCCI Certification Updates (published in APC Forum, February 2018)

The BCCI Commission on Certification and Area Certification Chairs have continued to be hard at work since the fall.  Area Certification chairs coordinated interviews for 122 candidates in October & November and are currently preparing for 130 candidates in February and March.  The Commission has reviewed and updated several items which have been approved by the BCCI Board of Directors.
 1. Theological Education Equivalency Committee Announcement of Change to Section 7 of the Education Equivalency Worksheet

A change has been made to the Theological Education Equivalency Worksheet. Certification applicants will find a restructured Section 7 and mentors will need to be alert to the revised approach to Work Experience and Professional Attestation. This change applies to all Theological Education Equivalency Worksheets submitted beginning August 1st.

Under the new Section 7, applicants will be able to earn up to 15 graduate semester hours of education credits by demonstrating workplace learning. Applicants who have earned a minimum of 10 hours through workplace learning will have the option of earning up to an additional 5 hours of credit with a well-documented Letter of Attestation from a qualified BCCI or ACPE certified chaplain.

Currently, applicants can earn up to 30 hours, with 15 hours accrued independently for Work Experience or Professional Attestation. The change to a maximum of 15 total hours represents a refocusing of priority toward academic learning while continuing to value the learning that takes place in the course of practicing chaplaincy. The proposal for the change was submitted to the BCCI Commission by the Theological Education Equivalency Committee and voted into effect by the Commission and the BCCI Board of Directors. 
 2. Demonstrating and Evaluating ITP6: Articulate how primary research and research literature inform the profession of chaplaincy and one’s spiritual care practice

For ITP6, the writing guide states:  Spiritual care providers integrate research literacy and may conduct research to ensure that their spiritual care is current and innovative in their practice. Using examples, demonstrate how you are utilizing current research literature in your spiritual care practice and work with interdisciplinary team members.  If applicable, what primary research have you participated in and what were the key findings?  How are you integrating your findings in your spiritual care practice?

To demonstrate this competence, a candidate will—at a minimum—demonstrate with one specific example how research has impacted their practice of chaplaincy. We recognize that this is an evolving competency for many of us and the criteria for demonstrating competency in research literacy will grow over time.  For now we encourage candidates to give examples of a research study or article or book they have read and give a clear example of how that research has informed their care.  Questions committees might ask are: Has the candidate used any research in their work as a chaplain?  Has any finding prompted the candidate to start, stop, change, or continue any particular part of their chaplaincy work?  

The answer could be something like, “Research shows that patients and families perceive care givers to be more attentive and spend more time with them when the care giver is seated rather than standing. So, whenever possible and appropriate, I ask the patient/family for permission to sit with them (rather than standing over them),” or “I’m aware of a study about chaplaincy visits being associated with higher patient-satisfaction scores, which I told my VP about as I was advocating for more chaplains to be hired,” or “I heard about a study of spiritual-care communication boards for non-vocal ICU patients, and I got the board and use it now when I make visits in the ICU.” None of those is a sophisticated answer, but they illustrate where the acceptable minimum is. Unacceptable would be just a generic “I believe in research” statement without reference to any specific finding or even general findings, and without a clear example of how they have demonstrated this within their work.  3. Buddhist Task Force Work

Last year, a task force was formed with representatives from the BCCI Commission on Certification, representatives from Buddhist studies programs and centers, and several Buddhist chaplains.  The first task the group worked on was reviewing the Faith Group Recognition form and determining new language and requirements which would be understood by Buddhist sanghas and communities.  This form is completed and can be found HERE.

The task force will now begin reviewing the 2006 Buddhist White Paper which delineates the method for Buddhists to receive a theological education equivalency.  4. Research Hours Count for Work Experience Hours

At the request of a provisionally board certified chaplain and a board certified chaplain candidate, the commission considered the request to allow profession-related research to be counted as work experience.  The Commission and Board of Directors approved this request, with the following criteria:  Profession-related research is defined as participating in a profession-related research study as a principal investigator, co-investigator, collaborator, research assistant, project coordinator or consultant (including design, literature search/evaluation, intervention, data analysis, writing/revising manuscript or poster).  
Questions or comments on any of these items can be directed to bcci@apchaplains.org.