Director of Spiritual Care, Clinical Ethics at St. David's Healthcare

05/17/2022 Alumni Spotlight

Cam Burton '01

Cam Burton ’01 is the Director of Spiritual Care, Clinical Ethics at St. David’s Healthcare – South Austin Medical Center. He serves a department of hospital chaplains in providing spiritual and emotional support to patients, families, and staff. As a Clinical Ethicist, he also helps patients, families, and healthcare teams navigate difficult and complex issues related to patient care.

How did you get started in a career in your current sector / industry?
Some folks would call it providence. Others coincidence. I always say that I just fell into it. I fell in love with healthcare chaplaincy during my Clinical Pastoral Education internship as part of my seminary education.

Briefly walk us through your career journey to this point.
My professional career got its start at McMurry when I was hired as a Residence Hall Director after graduating. I spent the early years of my career in Higher Ed Administration/Student Affairs before accepting my first full-time ministry position as Director of Young Adult Ministries at St. Luke’s UMC in Midland. From there, I entered the ordination process, went back to grad school, served three lovely congregations, completed a residency at Baylor Scott & White in Temple, and have been with St. David’s Healthcare in Austin since 2012. I’ve since become an Ordained Minister in the UCC, Board Certified Chaplain, and Certified Healthcare Ethics Consultant.

What do you most enjoy about your sector / industry / job?
This work is never boring or predictable. Holding space for people in the midst of crisis and helping to make meaning out of the threshold moments of our lives is an immense and particular privilege we have as ministers. I love that I get to spend my time supporting folks and pointing to the ways that whatever it is we consider Divine/Sacred/ Greater-than-ourselves intersects with our ordinary daily lives. Despite all of the heavy, existentially meaningful stuff, my favorite moments are spent laughing with colleagues gathered around nurse’s stations or in hallways and fostering those precious relationships that become the foundation of our team’s resilience.

How is your current career the same, or different, than what you thought it would be when you began college?
It’s certainly not what I imagined I would be doing when I started – despite the numerous people who predicted this trajectory. My initial plans were to become a therapist. Then I thought I would spend my career in Higher Ed/Student Affairs. Regardless of those plans, in some way, my career has always been about journeying alongside other people as they navigate the critical junctures and important moments of their lives – launching into adulthood, celebrating rites of passage, making meaning in the everyday, and figuring out what sustains us through crisis and grief. As an observant friend once articulated it, I “spend [my] time running headfirst into the situations everyone else spends their life trying to avoid.”

What words of advice do you have for McMurry students or fellow alumni interested in a career in your sector or industry?
This is a vocation that chooses you – and not the other way around. And it is certainly not for the faint of heart. It can be exhausting and difficult. But it is also the most rewarding.