TCC Reaches Beyond Traditional Healthcare Education to Train Chaplains

FORT WORTH, Texas — North Texas hospitals and clinics have long touted Tarrant County College healthcare programs as some of the best in the state. But the recognition doesn’t end with a top-flight education in nursing, radiology and nuclear medicine. TCC also trains chaplains.

Just this month the school’s Long Term Care Administration hosted a Healthy Aging Symposium to inform student chaplains about everything from seniors’ mental health to their spiritual and psychological support needs.

The annual event started three years ago when LTCA program director Regina Franklin reconnected with the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at Baylor Scott & White Hospital System. She completed her chaplaincy training there while earning her Master of Divinity at Perkins School of Theology.

A Licensed Nursing Facility Administrator since 1990, Franklin knows firsthand how important chaplains are to patient well-being. That knowledge became a calling to minister to those facing the end of life. And it sparked the desire to give back to the CPE program and its students when she joined TCC six years ago.

That’s the story behind the start of the annual Healthy Aging Symposium. Its impact has been life-changing and far-reaching.

“With the growing population of seniors in our region, it’s vital that healthcare professionals and clergy partner to ensure the best care possible for quality of life,” Franklin said.

Chaplain Bicri Hernandez, a CPE-certified educator at Baylor All Saints in Fort Worth, agrees.

“Understanding the aging process helps professional chaplains develop empathy toward the patients and families they serve,” she said. “This experience at TCC helps the chaplain residents integrate their identity as chaplains and their appreciation of others to become professional leaders in the healthcare industry.”

This year’s 21 symposium participants included pastors — one from Nigeria — a certified nursing assistant with a call to ministry, an Air Force Reserve chaplain and two CPE students at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

For CNA Caroline King, the symposium reinforced her commitment to minister to patients and their families. “It’s all about relationships.”

Even with 20 years of chaplaincy service, Air Force veteran Steve Sowell found the symposium meaningful.

“By gaining greater insight to the symptoms and behaviors of those impacted by mental health diseases, I have increased empathy for patients and their family members,” he said.

Garth Wingfield, one of the Baylor University Medical CPE students, said he left the symposium with practical solutions that he could use the very next day.

That’s exactly what Regina Franklin and LTCA faculty had in mind when they imagined the inaugural TCC event in 2022 — a day of intensive learning to strengthen a lifetime of spiritual nurturing.

Dr. Stephanie Holden with members of TCC’s Health Care Professions faculty.
Chaplain educators and Clinical Pastoral Education students discuss aging issues.
Dr. Stephanie Holden leads discussion during the Healthy Aging Symposium.

Pathway: Health Science

Campus: Trinity River

Long Term Care Administration – Tarrant County College (

Tarrant County College is one of the nation’s largest higher education institutions and boasts the second lowest tuition of Texas’ Top 10 community colleges. A comprehensive two-year college with six campuses in Tarrant County and online classes, TCC offers a range of opportunities for learners of all ages and backgrounds, including Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees; workforce and economic development programs; technical and skilled trades programs; and customized training for area businesses and corporations.