Guidelines for Preparing for the PCHAC

The following guidelines may be helpful to applicants in preparing their materials and evaluating their readiness for the Palliative Care & Hospice Advanced Certification process. 

General Guidelines

ADVANCED PRAXIS AND SPECIALIZATION: The BCC-PCHAC signifies that a chaplain has specialized expertise and knowledge in palliative care/hospice chaplaincy.  The BCC-PCHAC does not represent just another skill set of a good professional chaplain. In preparing and reviewing their materials, applicants are strongly encouraged to ensure that their applications demonstrate the consistent performance of advanced, evidence-based praxis as a palliative care/hospice specialist beyond the excellent work of a BCC. 

THE 14 PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCIES: The applicant must demonstrate all 14 professional competencies of the BCC-PCHAC in their written work and in the certification interview.  Applicants are encouraged to read the list of competencies before beginning to generate their application materials.

EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE:  It is expected that the BCC-PCHAC applicant will be well-versed in the literature of palliative care/hospice chaplaincy, both historical and current literature.  The essay, the case presentation, and the quality improvement project will clearly illustrate the applicant’s familiarity with the literature and the ways in which the literature informs and is integrated into the applicant’s advanced praxis in palliative care/hospice chaplaincy. 

INTERDISCIPLINARY AND TRANSDISCIPLINARY PRACTICE: Palliative care and hospice are interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary enterprises.  The applicant’s materials should demonstrate clearly that the applicant’s work is interdisciplinary or even transdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary work has the goal of collaboration in exchanging information, transferring knowledge from one discipline to another, and sharing resources so that each team member’s work is informed by the others’ work and there is integration of disciplines toward a holistic plan of care.  In transdisciplinary work, team members contribute their unique expertise and perspectives while at the same time transcending their own disciplines to understand a whole project or a whole patient/family system rather than one part of it, to capture complexity, and to create new spaces for practice. 

PRACTICE ACROSS ALL DELIVERY-OF-CARE SETTINGS:  It is important to articulate the similarities and distinctions of philosophies of care and modes of care in palliative care/hospice settings.  Although an applicant may practice exclusively in one setting, such as hospice or hospital-based palliative care, the BCC-PCHAC certification signifies the chaplain’s expertise across the spectrum of palliative care/hospice. 

Specific Guidelines

RECOMMENDATIONS:  Three letters of recommendation are required.  One is from a palliative care/hospice supervisor.  This recommendation can also do double-duty by verifying the applicant’s clinical experience (i.e., three years of clinical experience, during each of which at least 520 hours of the applicant’s work was devoted to palliative care/hospice).  The other two recommendations are from interdisciplinary team members with whom the applicant has served, only one of whom may be a chaplain.  Many of the BCC-PCHAC competencies are related to interdisciplinary/collaborative team work and it is important not to underestimate the value of letters of recommendation in highlighting the applicant’s collaborative style and inter- or transdisciplinary work on the palliative care/hospice team.  Letters of recommendation that are marked by in-depth, case-oriented writing will be particularly constructive in the application process, clearly demonstrating the BCC-PCHAC applicant’s contributions to the hospice or palliative care team. 

PROFESSIONAL PROGRESSION FROM BCC TO BCC-PCHAC APPLICANT: The requirement is a reflection on the applicant’s professional progression from the role of BCC to the advanced role of the BCC-PCHAC. It will be important to show integrated depth of how this informs patient-centered chaplaincy care. As we know, hospital and team cultures impact chaplaincy care practice, so a clear description of the applicant’s team and culture will inform the certification committee of one’s integration.  

ESSAY IN ONE PART OR THREE: The essay has three required components: the theory and practice of the applicant’s palliative care/hospice chaplaincy; a case presentation; and a quality improvement project. An applicant may choose to integrate these three components into a single document or write them as three separate documents.

ESSAY / THEORY & PRACTICE: The purpose of this portion of the major essay is to address the theory and practice of chaplaincy across the continuum of palliative care/hospice. The 14 professional competencies of the BCC-PCHAC are not splinter skills, mastered in isolation, but together form the core of advanced praxis. This integration of competencies should be reflected in the essay.

ESSAY / CASE PRESENTATION: The case presentation should clearly demonstrate the applicant’s mastery of the professional literature and integration of the literature into an evidence-based advanced praxis. Unlike a verbatim, which is a snapshot of a single encounter, the case presentation shows the progress of the applicant’s work and the collaborative work of the team over a period, as intervention, ongoing assessment, and circumstances alter the situation of the case presented. 

The case study must include at least four elements: 

  1. It must include a spiritual plan of care that is comprehensive and that evolves in response to on-going assessment or changing circumstances.
  2. It must clearly demonstrate how and why the applicant’s spiritual practice progressed over the course of the case.
  3. It must be holistic, integrating chaplaincy care to enhance the other disciplines on the palliative care team.
  4. It must illustrate an integrated team approach to the patient or family in the case.   

ESSAY / QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: BCC-PCHAC applicants must demonstrate and articulate their participation in a QI project that enhances the delivery of chaplaincy care in palliative care/hospice. The QI project should be one that the applicant helped create and implement, and should clearly demonstrate the resources available, the activities carried out to ensure or improve quality of care in a hospice/palliative setting, and the measurable outcomes experienced as a result.