For your professional ethics edification in September

Written by Rev. Misti Johnson-Arce, ACPE Certified Educator

a lake is surrounded by pine trees and there are mountains behind the treesOnce a month the ACPE Professional Ethics Commission (PEC) posts a couple of statements from our Code of Professional Ethics for ACPE Members. Each posting is accompanied by a brief personal reflection from a member of the PEC discussing some ways this person lives these commitments.*

In collegial relationships, ACPE members:

  1. Respect the integrity and welfare of colleagues; maintain professional relationships on a professional basis, refraining from disparagement and avoiding emotional, sexual, or any other kind of exploitation.
  2. Take collegial and responsible action when concerns about incompetence, impairment, or misconduct arise.

Rev. Misti Johnson-Arce, ACPE Certified Educator from Boca Raton Regional Hospital of Baptist Health South Florida in Boca Raton, Florida, comments: 

As ACPE Educators, we have the privilege of helping students clarify their ministerial callings, develop their pastoral authority, and raise self-awareness about strengths, limitations, and influences that shape the lens through which they see and relate to the world. Our board-certified chaplains and clinical members are often asked to help students get acclimated to clinical settings and model the Professional Code of Ethics outlined by our organizations.

Ethically speaking, we have a responsibility as ACPE Educators when concerns about incompetence, impairment, or misconduct arise.  Sometimes, a response to these concerns could be to encourage a colleague to seek professional help. In other contexts, an appropriate action would be to have another educator step in to work with the students.  These situations can be difficult to navigate, but a response may be necessary. With forethought, these concerns can be addressed  in a compassionate, respectful manner, protecting students or others from being exploited. In the end, the educator can hopefully receive the help needed.

I am mindful that we ask students to be open to learning, build trust with one another to share appropriate levels of vulnerability, and work hard so they can grow and become better people and ministers.  Yet we as educators and clinical members must earn their trust and remain responsible and committed to the process as well.  We do this through our integrity, honesty and modeling good behavior. What we teach must be congruent with our actions.

If you ever feel like you are in a gray area or face some uncertainty regarding these Standards, please seek consultation as soon as possible. 

*Every situation is unique, and any member should not act based solely on the comments in the article but to base action on an independent review of the ethical standards applicable to his/her situation.