WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The newest class of hospital chaplains is ready to provide hope to hurting people.
In their year of residency, the chaplains ministered to nearly 52,000 patients, family members and hospital staff at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
"I was in these moments of great crises and was able to be with the family," Jonathan Crooms said. "That's really what it's all about is ministry of presence, of really being there with somebody in the most difficult moments of their life."
Crooms is among this year's class graduating from New Hanover Regional Medical Center's Clinical Pastoral Education Program. It's headed by the hospital's Spiritual Care Department Director Marty Aden.
"It doesn't matter who you are and where you come from or what you believe," Aden said. "It's your belief. We don't try to impose our beliefs on anybody."
Aden said it's all about helping people cope with death, disease and injury. She said even the students have wounds.
"Part of our process is to help people look at the wounds they bring and how they can be a benefit and a resource, and also how they get in the way sometimes," Aden said.
"It's both challenging emotionally, but it's also rewarding," Crooms said. "Part of the program is to learn how to make sure you get enough rest and to handle your own emotions. That's why you're always doing reflection."
Crooms said the chaplains must have their emotions in check to be able to help others through emotionally draining times.
Hospital chaplains are required to complete 1,600 hours of clinical pastoral education.
NHRMC's graduates worked in all units, including critical care and pediatrics. They even rode in ambulances.