Parish Nursing Health Ministry
What is Parish Nursing?
Parish Nursing is the intentional integration of faith with the practice of nursing. Parish Nurses care for congregations all over the world. They work within their own church to provide education, health counseling, disease prevention and other duties as directed by their congregation.
What is Health Ministry?
Health ministry is a field of ministry within a congregation that focuses on leading the body of Christ to wholeness. As part of Jesus’ example to teach, preach, and heal, health ministry deals with the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of a person. Parish nurses and others within the congregation are able to put their spiritual gifts to work.
What is a Parish Nurse?
A Parish Nurse is a licensed registered nurse (RN) who practices in a faith community and offers health and wellness services. Parish nurses assist congregational members to gain and/or maintain optimal mental, physical, and spiritual health by serving as a:
- Health Educator
Offer classes and support groups on a variety of health-related topics
- Personal Health Counselor
Meet with individuals and families—at church, home, hospital or other facilities—to discuss health concerns
- Referral agent and liaison
Provide referrals to both congregational and community resources
- Volunteer Facilitator
Coordinate volunteers and other resources within the congregation to serve in various health ministries
- Health Advocate
Listen to and support individuals and families in need of health care resources. When needed, parish nurses connect them with appropriate services and serve as their voice when they are in need of help
- Support Group Developer
Facilitate the development of support groups for members of the congregation and local community when appropriate
- Integrator of Faith and Health
Help individuals understand how body, mind, and spirit are closely related According to the Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice (2012), faith community nursing (parish nursing) “is the specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as part of the process of promoting wholistic health and preventing or minimizing illness in a faith community.”
What does a Parish Nurse do?
Parish nurses are usually volunteers in a church, but some are members of a paid church staff. All work closely with the pastoral staff and under the general direction of a congregational Health Council. Parish nurses promote the faith community as a source of health and healing. Building relationships and friendships, parish nurses regularly engage in activities that teach prevention and encourage health lifestyles. Some activities that parish nurses perform include:
- + Monthly blood pressure screenings after worship service
- + Organize speakers to come to address women’s health issues
- + Pray with and for those with chronic or acute medical conditions
- + Visit the elderly, homebound, and even newborn babies and their parents
- + Arrange for volunteer training and visitation
- + Contribute health-related articles to bulletin or newsletter
- + Coordinate exercise classes or weight management classes
- + Ensure proper infection control is maintained in the nursery and Sunday School classes
- + Many more possibilities based on the needs of the congregation
How do I become a Parish Nurse?
The Parish Nurse Ministry at Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) offers the Basic Parish Nurse Preparation Course 2-3 times per year. The basic course includes the history, philosophy, roles and function of the parish nurse, the role of the church in health, how to function as a member of the pastoral team, health promotion and maintenance, documentation, accountability, confidentiality, legal considerations, spiritual care, working with volunteers, how to access community resources, and self-care for the parish nurse. The course is endorsed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. Interested nurses should contact Colleen Klamar, Parish Nurse Coordinator at LifeCare Medical Center for more information on registration. Call (218) 463-4751, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.