Chaplain's fellowship experience will help patients even more

Kristin GodlinKristin Godlin, pastoral services at Carle, will work with leading scientific researchers in the fields of religious coping and pastoral care. Health-care chaplains, the front-line workers around religion and spirituality in health care, embrace the importance of evidence-based practice and realize the need to use research to guide and to evaluate the spiritual care they provide.

As one of only eight chaplains in the country to earn The John Templeton Foundation Transforming Chaplaincy Project fellowship, Godlin will complete a two-year, research-focused Master of Public Health at University of Illinois. In addition, the fellows will also complete a for-credit online course, Understanding Research on Religion, Spirituality and Health, receive mentoring, and participate in conferences and research.

Training begins late July, and Carle’s finest is among them.

“There is increasing recognition that scientific research can be used to guide and evaluate spiritual care in hospitals,” said Goldin, who hopes her research will impact families and improve medical outcomes.

pastoral care teamPhilip McGarvey, manager of pastoral care at Carle, said most people know spiritual care is helpful to patients, but there’s a lack of quantifiable research to support its effects on medical outcomes.

This spring, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allocated more than $3 million to study the effects of a chaplain-led spiritual intervention for cancer patients. 

McGarvey says Godlin is worthy of the Templeton honor and isn’t surprised that as an accomplished, well-educated chaplain, she’s primed for this challenge.

“Kristin is top-notch and at the top of her field,” he said.

The softer skills required of chaplains are also strengths of Godlin’s.

“She oozes compassion. She’s an active and engaged listener—a critical function of chaplains,” said McGarvey.

Pastoral care at Carle provides comfort, support, and a listening ear in a way that respects individual values and choices. Chaplains like Godlin integrate as part of care teams across all areas of the hospital taking a multi-faceted approach to ensure patient and family needs are met.

Emily Hurth, MSW, CCLS, said Godlin provides a supportive presence to patients and families where she empathically listens and provides spiritual guidance in a safe space—a great asset when working with young children and families facing trauma.

Godlin’s research will focus on coping with family trauma. It will help to identify, guide and evaluate spiritual interventions to promote post-traumatic growth in patients and their families.

Godlin has been a part of the Carle pastoral care team since 2012, serving all patients but focusing on medical/surgical, pediatrics and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She received her master’s of sacred theology and her master’s of divinity from Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn., and her bachelors of arts from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. She is a recipient of Downe’s Prize for Excellence in Preaching and Church Women United Church Woman of the Year.