Home > Education > Foundations in Contemplative Care

Now more than ever, we are committed to train and support caregivers in a contemplative approach to care.

Since 2007, the Foundations in Contemplative Care training has transformed the lives of individuals from across the country and around the world by supporting the integration of spiritual practice and care.


We continue to find ourselves in unprecedented times when the entire world is in crisis. In the midst of impermanence and isolation, what is being asked of us? How can we be resilient in new ways to serve others? We are each being called upon to respond to the suffering in the world. How can we answer this call? These are the questions around which Koshin Paley Ellison Sensei and Chodo Robert Campbell Sensei will orient the 2023/24 training. 


We are pleased to offer a limited number of partial-tuition scholarships to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students and for those with financial need. Please email us at info@zencare.org to inquire about these opportunities.


The mission of New York Zen Center is to transform the nature of care through contemplative practice by creating awareness and skill to meet vulnerability, illness, aging and death with dignity and compassion. We approach this mission through the three interconnected aspects of our center’s work: training, care, and contemplative practice.


In the many years that NYZC has provided care and trained contemplative caregivers, the demand for a compassionate approach to life transitions has become ever more urgent. How do we ensure that as a society, we are aware of the changing needs and are taking action to care for the most vulnerable among us?


Program components include two class days a month, 50 clinical hours in a hospital, hospice or residential community, one-on-one mentoring, and self-directed reading and writing exercises. This training is ideal for professional caregivers such as nurses, social workers, and hospice workers as well as those interested in becoming caregivers.


Physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants are encouraged to learn more and apply to the Contemplative Medicine Fellowship

Program details


You can access the application form here.

Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis as space permits.  The deadline to apply for the 2023 – 2024 cohort is August 7, 2023.

Please return a completed application, application fee, and completed reference form to the Center. We will review your materials and if appropriate, contact you about setting up an interview via Skype or Zoom.) After the interview, you will be notified regarding your acceptance.

In addition to practitioners from all streams of Buddhism, the Center welcomes applications from individuals of various faiths who have an ongoing personal contemplative practice (e.g., meditation, centering prayer, etc.) and who share our commitment of exploring the intersection of contemplative practice, caregiving, and social action.

For most months, training days are one weekend a month Friday 3:00–6:00 p.m. ET and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET. The retreat weekend is Wednesday–Sunday. For a detailed schedule please click on the “Dates” tab above.

Throughout the 9 months, we will come together as a world-wide virtual community, using online learning platforms for lectures, dharma talks and group discussion, and in small intimate groups for mentor meetings and experiential learning.


Monthly classes may be attended virtually via Zoom or in-person—pending circumstances associated with COVID-19. The in-person seats are first-come, first-served and must be reserved during registration for all classes.


At this point, we are also planning a required in-person retreat at the Garrison Institute in Garrison NY, in May 2024. In the event of an on site retreat, virtual participation is not possible. Whether or not we are able to gather for this retreat will depend on the circumstances and safety related to COVID, which we are monitoring closely. As we move toward the retreat we will make a decision based on the safety. If it’s not safe to have an in-person retreat, we will instead have a virtual retreat via Zoom. Please note that this retreat is not included in the Foundations tuition.


If our required in-person retreat is not possible due to Covid, we will instead have a regular training weekend via Zoom.

The tuition for the course is $3,475. (This does not include the cost of the required in-person retreat.) We are committed to working with you to make financial arrangements as possible through scholarship or payment plans. Scholarships are awarded upon acceptance to the program.  Please write to us for further information at info@zencare.org

Participants commit to attending eight training weekends and one in-person retreat, completing all reading and written assignments, and meeting with a mentor one-on-one eight times during the training. There is also a required monthly peer group meeting (led by your mentor). In addition, participants commit to completing 50 hours of volunteer caregiving work (in-person or online; 100 hours strongly suggested) by the time of the last class in May.

Participants may serve as a volunteer caregiver at hospitals, hospices, and other health centers, as well as community centers and senior centers. Placements may be in-person or online. Students who live outside of the New York City metropolitan area are responsible for finding a clinical site for volunteering near to where they live.

No. This is an introductory training program. Each of us has the capacity to embrace the suffering of another person and the ability to provide compassionate care to another.

This is a graduate-level training that includes several self-directed learning components. It does not certify you to become a chaplain. However, successful completion of the Foundations Program does make you eligible to apply for our Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training program. Also, once you are accepted to the Foundations Program, you have the option to register through our partner institution, New York Theological Seminary, to receive eight graduate seminary credits for this program. In addition to the tuition paid to NYZC for the program, there is an additional charge, paid to NYTS if you want to receive credit.


related content


Foundations in Contemplative Care Information Session