Joanne Laurence, a 2016 graduate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) Master of Arts program in Buddhist Chaplaincy, was awarded the highest professional certification, Board Certified Chaplain [BCC], from the Association of Professional Chaplains.
Dr. Daijaku Kinst, Director of the IBS Chaplaincy program, said, “It is very difficult to be Board Certified, because of the strict requirements. She was asked to submit detailed written material on her body of work as a chaplain and to defend her work in the field before a panel of certified chaplains. She passed on her first try. We, at IBS, are extremely proud of her accomplishment.”
Laurence, gives much credit to IBS and her encounter with Jodo Shinshu. She says, “Jodo Shinshu weaves through my work, it really does. My encounter with the teaching of Shinran deepened my understanding of the Dharma, mostly through the articulation of benevolence and compassion, which surrounds us every day of our lives and beyond. I often remember that Amida Buddha is with me, breathing with me, supporting my work. I am so proud to be an IBS alumni and to walk with the teaching of the Buddha Dharma.”
Board certification requires, in addition to the graduate degree in Buddhist chaplaincy, a one year residency in Clinical Pastoral Education in which residents serve people of all faiths, are supervised, and reflect deeply on themselves and their work with patients. Laurence completed her residency at the University of California Medical Center. In addition she had to complete 2,000 hours of direct service as a professional chaplain. She worked as a palliative care and hospice chaplain, often working with the poorest and most needy people in the community. She is required to have ecclesiastical endorsement and to provide three letters of reference from colleagues in different disciplines attesting to her expertise and competency.
She was also required to submit two in depth verbatims. Verbatims are written accounts of a pastoral care encounter with extensive written reflection on the encounter including an analysis of core competencies. Core competencies include one’s theological understanding of the situation and one’s response to it, a spiritual assessment, ethical, social, cultural, and psychological considerations, personal reflection and assessments, and institutional/relational aspects of care.
Her application was submitted and accepted, and she appeared before a panel of 5 board certified chaplains, who interviewed her to ensure her clarity and trust in her excellence in the profession. She was notified of her passing on Nov. 18, 2018.
Laurence works as a palliative care and hospice chaplain at Providence Hospice in Portland, Oregon.