The responsibilities of a hospital chaplain typically include providing counseling and guidance to patients and their families and the hospital staff, along with performing specific religious rites as necessary. Some chaplains operate within a specific faith or denomination, though some offer counseling to people regardless of religious affiliation.
In many cases, a hospital chaplain is an officially ordained member of a specific religious group who works within the hospital full-time conducting the typical rituals and services of the religion for the benefit of the people within the hospital. As the chaplain's congregation is the hospital occupants, she also makes herself available to any person in need of spiritual guidance. If a patient is facing a debilitating disease, the chaplain is available to discuss the spiritual ramifications on the patient's life.
Another large segment of the responsibilities of a hospital chaplain revolves around death. For example, if a patient is on the verge of passing away within the hospital, the chaplain conducts the appropriate ceremony according to her religion, such as the last rites within Christianity, to ensure the proper spiritual passing of the patient. The chaplain also offers grief counseling to the friends and family of the patient to help cope with and understand the loss. This counseling and support is also available to anyone on the hospital staff affected by the passing.