Research Medical Center
March 13, 2012

The vital facets of healing patients in a hospital setting go beyond just the physical. There are emotional and spiritual components of nurturing the human spirit, whether it’s a patient or a family member. A primary focus of spiritual care involves listening to a patient’s story and drawing upon the person’s belief system as a source of strength and healing.

The Rev. Dr. James M. Harper III, director of the Midwest Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at Research Medical Center and a nationally recognized expert in CPE, has received the prestigious George P. Polk Award for his work in spiritual care. The award, given by the Racial Ethnic Multicultural Network of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) recognizes Harper for his decades of innovation and commitment to excellence and diversity in CPE.

The Midwest CPE program at Research Medical Center—part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare network—is a statistical portrait of success and reflects Harper’s quiet leadership, philosophy of education and pastoral heart during the past 20 years. The placement of resident graduates from the Midwest CPE program has continually improved, with 85 to 100 percent of students finding jobs since 2010. Additionally, the programs Supervisory Education Student (SES) certifications have topped an 80 percent success rate.

The Midwest CPE program offers an opportunity for students to learn how to provide spiritual care by making visits to hospital patients, interacting with families and supporting staff during the sometimes difficult personal illnesses and situations that occur during a hospital stay.

“Success in the Midwest CPE program is bred through a commitment to relational credibility,” says Harper. “It is about walking the walk with the student, drawing out of a student what is already internal. We build on a student’s life experience, which in turn, is an asset to the patients they will help.”

Harper has served the ACPE at the regional and national level for most of the last 20 years in Standards, Accreditation, Certification, and on multiple task forces. He was selected to help write the Spiritual Care Collaborative Common Standards. The Midwest CPE program at Research Medical Center is recognized for encompassing diversity, and is acknowledged as a world-class program

“Rev. Harper is the epitome of focusing on compassionate patient care,” says Kevin J. Hicks, chief executive officer of Research Medical Center. “The Midwest CPE program is an asset to our hospital, physicians, nurses and staff, and of course, the patients and their families. He is very deserving of this honor.”