Chaplains offer pastoral and spiritual care to all patients and their carers, friends and family as well as NHS staff.
Training and qualifications required
Chaplains have to be accredited as leaders in a recognised faith community. They usually have a degree or a professional qualification and employers expect them to have experience as a leader in their own faith and experience of spiritual and pastoral care. Employers may also ask for some experience in healthcare work. This could be from, for example, hospital visiting while working as a faith leader elsewhere. Chaplains new to the NHS have training which includes an introduction to healthcare chaplaincy, spirituality and chaplaincy in a multi-faith context, working in the NHS, working with people who are mentally ill. Chaplains may be able to study for postgraduate qualifications eg in healthcare chaplaincy or counselling.
Expected working hours and salary range
Chaplains working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. You will typically start on AfC band 5. With further training and experience, you could apply for a chaplain team leader position at band 6. Chaplains in the NHS work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. They are likely to work weekends and evenings. They may be part of an on-call rota. Terms and conditions will usually be different for chaplains working outside of the NHS.
Desirable skills and values
As a chaplain in the NHS you'll need to be willing to work with other faiths and people with no faith, able to work with staff, patients and families from all walks of life, flexible, caring and compassionate and able to work as part of a team with healthcare staff. You will also need excellent communication, including listening, skills, be able to see things from another person’s point of view and have good organisational skills.
With experience, a chaplain could become a team leader, supervising the work of other chaplains. They could then progress to become a manager, responsible for chaplaincy in a hospital or NHS trust. They may be involved in training other chaplains.