The goal of the parish nurse: It is to minister holistically to individuals and families, in and through the faith community, using her health education and spiritual maturity to promote wellness of body, mind, and spirit.
As health issues become a greater concern for most of our population, the idea of having a parish nurse in congregations has become more appealing. They help with health concerns, visit ill people (sometimes for the social support) and make sure no one falls through the cracks.
Parish nursing is a care program of lay leaders from the nursing profession, who serve to integrate well-being with spiritual health and physical healing. The parish nurse job description includes acting as health educators, health counselors, organizers of volunteers and referral specialists.
Confidentiality is always kept unless you present issues that are a danger to you or someone else. There is no charge for the services of a parish nurse.
What is a Parish Nurse?
A parish nurse is a registered nurse with additional training who serves members of the congregation. According to the International Parish Nurse Resource Center, parish nurses are registered nurses, most of whom have several years’ (or more) nursing experience in hospital-based or community-based settings.
The number of parish nurses in United States is estimated to be about 6000 by the Marquette University College of Nursing.
When Christianity began, the church was a major influence in all dimensions of life, looking after people’s emotional and physical needs as well as their spiritual concerns. Over the years, health care became the domain of the medical community. But in recent years, we have become more aware of the powerful connection between a person’s physical condition, mental state and spiritual well-being. The job description of a parish nurse is to provide “whole person health care.”
Having parish nurses as part of a congregation’s ministry integrates this idea of “whole person health care” into the church. The parish nurse position description includes the following:
- Health Educator – using health screenings, discussion groups, classes and special events the parish nurse helps parishioners understand the relationship between body, mind and spirit.
- Health Counselor – an important role of the parish nurse includes availability for consultations through people’s homes, the hospitals or nursing home visits. Parish nurse prayers mean a lot.
- Facilitator or Organizer – this church nurse coordinates volunteers within the congregation and keeps documentation on all her workings.
- Referral Specialist – the parish nurse guides parishioners to community health care and religious resources and services.
Things Nurses Should Know
- Nearly 1 in 2 people have an illness; 96% of illnesses are invisible. It is said that approximately 75% of marriages with illness end in divorce;
- Depression is 15-20% higher for the chronically ill than for the average person;
- Various studies have reported that physical illness or uncontrollable physical pain are major factors in up to 70% of suicides; and more than 50% of these suicidal patients were under 35 years of age.
- However, the significance of one’s faith has shown to lower one’s risk of depressive symptoms and aid one in better handling a stressful medical event.
- Health Ministries Association
- Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health
- National Council of Churches Survey
- Eden Books Carries many parish nursing materials
- Caring Congregations – An ecumenical program to facilitate education for the formation of health care ministries and to promote the link between health and faith; cosponsored by the Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education (Union-PSCE), HCA Richmond Hospitals, and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR)
- International Network for Interfaith Health Practices – Sponsored by the Interfaith Health Program of the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Congregational Nurse Program of Saint Francis Hospital of Evanston, Illinois.
- Chronic Pain Resources for Parish Nurses
- All of Nursing
- Parish Nurse Forum
- International Parish Nurse Resource Center of Advocate Health Care
- National Hospice Association
- Northwest Parish Nursing
- Nurses Christian Fellowship
- Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries
- Parish Nursing
- World Pastoral Care Center
- Health Ministries In Minnesota
- Hospital Christian Fellowship providing spiritual care in the hospital
- International Network for Interfaith Health Practices Sponsored by the Interfaith Health Program, Carter Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
- Nazarene Health Care Ministries
- Internet Theology Resources, by School of Theology Major Areas
- Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry– Resources on family problems, rural health, social justice, and more
- International Parish Nurse Resource Center
Non USA Resources
- Australian Parish Nurse Resource Center
- Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas Health Care Ministry
- New Zealand Faith Community Nurses Association
- Canadian Association for Parish Nursing Ministry
- InterChurch Health Ministries (ICHM) [in Canada]
Parish Nurse Newsletters
- Forums at the International Parish Nurse Resource Center
- ParishNurse This is a Yahoo Groups type of forum (with 450 members) for Parish Nurses, Congregational Nurses, Faith Community Nurses and/or those interested in the field of Parish Nursing or Faith Community Nursing to network and share experiences and information.Denominational Parish Nursing Programs
- Presbyterian Church (USA) National Health Ministries
- United Church of Christ Parish Nurse Network
- Lutheran Parish Nursing Programs
- The Healing Ministry of Catholic Healthcare, United Methodist Church Parish Nursing Program
- Faith and Health by St. John Health Parish Nursing American Journal of Nursing Parish Nursing
- St. Mary’s Parish Nurse Ministry Program Newsletter
- CMS Parish Nurse Newsletter
- Book: A Collection of Parish Nurse Newsletters
- Trinity Regional Health System Parish Nurse Newsletter
- Northwest Parish Nurse News
- Health and Wellness: Parish Nursing News The newsletter of Nazarene Parish Nursing
- Mustard Seed from the Parish Nursing program at Lourdes Hospital
- Good News of St. Vincent’s Medical Center Parish Nurse Ministry
- Jill’s Health Newsletters Provides content for your parish nurse or healthcare ministries newsletters
- Wisconsin Nurses Association, Parish Nurse Newsletter