I am a Parish Nurse and will try to answer your questions.
Think of the Parish Nurse as a bridge between the health and faith communities. A Parish Nurse is a registered nurse who, as a member of the ministerial team, provides preventive care with a focus on health promotion and spiritual care. The Parish Nurse focuses not only on a person's physical health, but also their spiritual, mental, and emotional health. A Parish Nurse is not a primary care giver, but serves more as a link between the church, community, and healthcare system. The goal is to enable people to acquire and maintain their individual optimal level of wellness. Actual roles of the Parish Nurse will vary from congregation to congregation, but typically include the following areas
Health Educator- Through a variety of formats, seminars, conferences, and classes the Parish Nurse seeks to raise the health awareness level of the church family.
Personal Health Counselor - Available to discuss personal health problems, recommend medical intervention, offer blood pressure screenings, etc.
Visitation Minister - makes home/hospital visits
Referral Source - Assists in obtaining needed services from community agencies
Volunteer Coordinator - Recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers to respond to needs in church.
Client Advocate - Visit people in hospital and intervene for the patient and talk to the nursing/medical staff.
Before beginning her church duties, the Parish Nurse completes an extensive orientation, which includes some pastoral components. The nurse also learns about the various community resources available.
Parish Nursing has been recognized as a specialty practice by the ANA. Parish nurses do not focus on "hands on" care or invasive procedures. They do not replace or compete with the medical care that people recieve from their doctors, but work with them in collaborative relationships for the benefit of the individual and community well-being. Far more than a "nurse in the church", parish nursing is a ministry of caring that integrates health and wholeness into the fabric of the congregation.
The Parish Nurse offers words of encouragement, explanation of medical procedures, detection and prevention of disease, and is a friend and counselor who helps church members work through difficult times. As a parish nurse, I have the opportunity to pray with individuals, if appropriate. No, I do not "preach", but hopefully those I minister to through my role do find comfort in my words of encouragement.
As far as pay.....that varies. I do get paid a stipend. I am employed by a hospital which pays 25% of my salary. The church pays the remainder. I am definitely not in this job for the money. There are many nurses that do this on a volutary basis because their church cannot afford to pay. My job is part-time, but I find I do work more than my 20 hours. That is one of the problems...you have to be able to set appropriate boundaries and safeguard your personal time.
Hopefully I have answered some of your questions. Please don't hesitate to ask other questions or pm me if you wish.