A question of identity

What does it mean for chaplains to become healthcare professionals?


  • John Swinton University of Aberdeen




chaplaincy, professional identity, professionalism, professionalisation, spiritual care


What does it mean to be a healthcare chaplain? The recent introduction of the chaplaincy guidelines has taken chaplains into the heart of the healthcare system and ensured that the National Health Service in Scotland has to think about and perhaps re-think the role of chaplaincy and its place within the system of healthcare delivery within Scotland. This presents a challenge not only to the National Health Service but also to chaplaincy. Chaplains will be called to account for who they are and what they do in a way that they have not previously had to. The question of the professional identity of the chaplain is thus crucial. This paper reflects critically on the identity of chaplaincy as a healthcare discipline and offers some reflective comments on the pros and cons of what it might mean for chaplains to develop an identity as “healthcare professionals.”

Author Biography

John Swinton, University of Aberdeen

John Swinton is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at the School of Divinity with Religious Studies and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen.


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How to Cite

Swinton, J. (2013). A question of identity: What does it mean for chaplains to become healthcare professionals?. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 2–8. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.v6i2.2

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