Program History   

In 1943, The Medical College of Virginia Hospital (MCVH) employed The Rev. Dr. George D. Ossman as the first chaplain and clinical pastoral educator. Dr. Ossman served for 14 years. In 1958, The Rev. A. Patrick L. Prest, Jr. was hired to establish an accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at The Medical College of Virginia Hospital (MCVH) in Richmond, Virginia. In 1959, the program received its accreditation from the Council for Clinical Training (CCT). "Pat" Prest led the department until his retirement in 1993, after 35 years of service. In 1967, the CCT merged with other organizations to form the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), and the CPE program has maintained accreditation with the ACPE since. Over 1300 students have completed CPE as residents, interns and externs since 1959. Beginning in the year 2000, students have received academic credit for their CPE in our graduate certificate program or our Master of Science degree program. We were the first CPE Center in the United States to offer a MS for those taking one year of CPE.

MCV Hospitals became a public authority with its own board in 1967. At that time, faculty remained state employees whereas CPE residents became hospital authority employees. The University and the hospital entered a Clinical Education, Research and Service Agreement (CERSA) through which Patient Counseling faculty provided education and service to the hospital. This arrangement was retained when MCV Hospitals and MCV Physicians partnered to form a health system on July 1, 2000. The new clinical enterprise was renamed Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.

From 1998 to 2000, the Program in Patient Counseling completed a comprehensive curriculum review resulting in the long-awaited approval of a Master of Science degree in Patient Counseling, culminating efforts begun by the Rev. Dr. Roy Woodruff in the mid-1970s. The degree opportunities include dual-degree arrangements with both the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

In 2007, the department's new track in the College of Health Professions' doctoral program in Health Related Sciences was approved and its first PhD student was accepted. Also in 2007, the department began its first distance learning programs at New College in Abingdon, Virginia and Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, Virginia.

In 2010, the Program in Patient Counseling experienced several significant changes. The Program in Patient Counseling became The Department of Patient Counseling. In addition, two endowed positions were created through gifts from the Robert and Katherine Lantz family. The Rev. Robert B. Lantz was a Lutheran minister and an ACPE Supervisor who received his training at MCV in the 1960s. The Rev. Lantz served as the Chair of the Pastoral Advisory Committee for a number of years and supported the development of the Master of Science degree program in Patient Counseling. He died in 2008, and two years later his wife, Katherine I. Lantz, completed his hope for an endowed Chair of the Department of Patient Counseling. She also provided a foundation gift to create a professorship in her name.

Dr. D. Mark Cooper became Chair of the Program in Patient Counseling in 2008 and was named the first Rev. Robert B. Lantz Chair of the Department of Patient Counseling, and Dr. Alexander Tartaglia was named the Katherine I. Lantz Professor of Patient Counseling. After Dr. Cooper retired in 2011, Dr. Angela Duncan became interim chair. Dr. Duncan, it should be noted, was the first to complete the doctorate in the Patient Counseling concentration of the PhD Program in Health Related Sciences. In July, 2012, Russell H. Davis, PhD joined the faculty as Professor and Rev. Robert B. Lantz Chair of the Department of Patient Counseling.