A Typical Day for this Parish Nurse

by tnbutterfly Admin

  1. 5

    A Typical Day for this Parish Nurse

    I have been a Parish Nurse for the past 9 years, being part of a program sponsored jointly by our local hospital and area churches. I received my parish nurse training through this hospital. Currently, there are more than 30 parish nurses in this program. Although mine is a paid part-time position, some of the nurses in the program work as volunteers, working with smaller congregations. For the paid positions, the hospital pays 25% of the salary while the church is responsible for the remaining 75%. In some programs, the hospital pays the entire salary, while in others this responsibility lies with the church. Salaries differ from program to program, ranging from volunteer status to a stipend or a salary equivalent to a “floor nurse”.

    It is difficult to describe a typical day or week for me. While there are some things I do every week, each week brings something new and unexpected. Much of my time is dictated by the ever-changing needs of the church members. I visit church members in the hospital, nursing home, etc. at least once a week as part of the ministerial staff rotation. Depending on the seriousness of a patient’s condition, I may visit more frequently. If someone experiences a medical crisis that results in an ER visit/admission, I frequently will try to be with them to offer support and explanations. When someone has a complicated surgery where the outcome is questionable, I try to be with the family as they wait. I also offer support before, during, and after the death of a loved one. These various activities can occupy much of my time. Since I am part-time working 20 hours per week, I have to prioritize my time. While I may have other things I planned to work on, if a more pressing need arises, I try to meet that need first. This is a draw-back of the position, as frequently I do work more than my 20 hours. Other things I do throughout the week include staff meetings, blood pressure clinic, healthcare counseling, and office hours. I also teach classes, organize blood drives, provide assistance in selecting healthcare facilities or alternative living facilities, provide in-home caregiver support, provide grief support, and act as a nursing student preceptor. I organized the efforts of our church to obtain two AED’s and provided CPR/AED training for our church staff.

    One of the things I really enjoy about being a parish nurse is the relationships I have developed. When I visit in the hospital or nursing home, it is with people I have known for years. I am not just visiting them to provide care while they are there, but will also be available as they return home, and will be present to see them through other crises in their lives. It’s not just a job to me. You grow to love these people and it is such a blessing to be able to share those very difficult and intimate moments with them.

    Due to the nature of the job, parish nurses have to be aware of compassion fatigue. Because parish nurses are often called upon to compassionately care for people they know who are experiencing serious illness, trauma, or even death, they are susceptible to the emotional, physical, social, and spiritual exhaustion that can cause a pervasive decline in their desire, ability, and energy to care for others. They must try to maintain balance in their lives and take time out for themselves as needed.

    As a parish nurse, I receive so much more than I give. Rather than a financial reward, I take away the knowledge that I have helped my brothers and sisters in Christ, thus fulfilling the purpose for which God has called me. I am able to use what I learned in school in addition to knowledge acquired from years of nursing to provide nursing care in a unique way. I am able to offer words of encouragement, explain medical procedures, detect medical problems, and be a friend and counselor who can help church members work through difficult times. As a parish nurse, I have the opportunity to pray with individuals when appropriate. I try not to “preach”, but hopefully those to whom I minister find comfort in my words of encouragement.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Sep 15, '13
    Sangrita RN, Agnetha, rn/writer, and 2 others like this.
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    tnbutterfly joined Jun '06 - from 'TN'. tnbutterfly has 'More than 35 years' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Parish Nsg, Disaster Nsg, Peds, Med-Surg'. Posts: 20,855 Likes: 10,139; Learn more about tnbutterfly by visiting their allnursesPage


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  5. 0
    Quote from tnbutterfly
    I have been a Parish Nurse for the past 9 years, being part of a program sponsored jointly by our local hospital and area churches. I received my parish nurse training through this hospital. Currently, there are more than 30 parish nurses in this program. Although mine is a paid part-time position, some of the nurses in the program work as volunteers, working with smaller congregations. For the paid positions, the hospital pays 25% of the salary while the church is responsible for the remaining 75%. In some programs, the hospital pays the entire salary, while in others this responsibility lies with the church. Salaries differ from program to program, ranging from volunteer status to a stipend or a salary equivalent to a “floor nurse”.

    It is difficult to describe a typical day or week for me. While there are some things I do every week, each week brings something new and unexpected. Much of my time is dictated by the ever-changing needs of the church members. I visit church members in the hospital, nursing home, etc. at least once a week as part of the ministerial staff rotation. Depending on the seriousness of a patient’s condition, I may visit more frequently. If someone experiences a medical crisis that results in an ER visit/admission, I frequently will try to be with them to offer support and explanations. When someone has a complicated surgery where the outcome is questionable, I try to be with the family as they wait. I also offer support before, during, and after the death of a loved one. These various activities can occupy much of my time. Since I am part-time working 20 hours per week, I have to prioritize my time. While I may have other things I planned to work on, if a more pressing need arises, I try to meet that need first. This is a draw-back of the position, as frequently I do work more than my 20 hours. Other things I do throughout the week include staff meetings, blood pressure clinic, healthcare counseling, and office hours. I also teach classes, organize blood drives, provide assistance in selecting healthcare facilities or alternative living facilities, provide in-home caregiver support, provide grief support, and act as a nursing student preceptor. I organized the efforts of our church to obtain two AED’s and provided CPR/AED training for our church staff.

    One of the things I really enjoy about being a parish nurse is the relationships I have developed. When I visit in the hospital or nursing home, it is with people I have known for years. I am not just visiting them to provide care while they are there, but will also be available as they return home, and will be present to see them through other crises in their lives. It’s not just a job to me. You grow to love these people and it is such a blessing to be able to share those very difficult and intimate moments with them.

    Due to the nature of the job, parish nurses have to be aware of compassion fatigue. Because parish nurses are often called upon to compassionately care for people they know who are experiencing serious illness, trauma, or even death, they are susceptible to the emotional, physical, social, and spiritual exhaustion that can cause a pervasive decline in their desire, ability, and energy to care for others. They must try to maintain balance in their lives and take time out for themselves as needed.

    As a parish nurse, I receive so much more than I give. Rather than a financial reward, I take away the knowledge that I have helped my brothers and sisters in Christ, thus fulfilling the purpose for which God has called me. I am able to use what I learned in school in addition to knowledge acquired from years of nursing to provide nursing care in a unique way. I am able to offer words of encouragement, explain medical procedures, detect medical problems, and be a friend and counselor who can help church members work through difficult times. As a parish nurse, I have the opportunity to pray with individuals when appropriate. I try not to “preach”, but hopefully those to whom I minister find comfort in my words of encouragement.
    HIIII,
    I KNOW ITS CRAZY...I SAW THIS SITE AS I WAS GOOGLING ABOUT PARISH NURSING..AND I READ YOUR STORY..THAT WAS REAL GENUINE AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INSIGHTS..IT JUST HIT ME TODAY THAT I WOULD LIKE TO BECOME A PARISH NURSE AND I WAS INQUIRING ABOUT THE SUBJECT. THANKS AGAIN,KIM..(ANYTHING TO BE CLOSER TO OUR SAVIOR)
  6. 0
    Hello Kim!

    Welcome to the Parish Nurse Forum. I'm so glad you found us. I hope you take time to read through some of the threads here. I will be happy to try to answer any questions about Parish Nursing. You may post your questions here, or feel free to pm me.
  7. 0
    Dear TNButterfly,

    I know your original post was in 2007, but I wanted to thank you for your honesty and clarity about the emotional dangers of Parish nursing.

    As a student, I'm just learning about this branch of nursing, but it fascinates me. Raised a southern Baptist, I've never met a Parish nurse.

    As a Christian for most of my life, I have prayed with many patients and their families in the hospital setting. Some people are offended by a simple prayer at this stressful time, but I think the patients do so much better when their spiritual needs are acknowledged and supported. Plus, since I'm on the surgical team, the blessings they are asking for are for partly to help me! I never refuse a blessing!

    I've worked in the ER, the ICU, the Cathlab, Home health, and Surgery. It's been 20 years of fixing broken people. I'm so glad to know that Parish nurses exist to care for the spiritual nature of the illness. Regardless of whether the body heals, the soul can find comfort, assisted by the Parish Nurse.

    Are you scared of the political environment of Political Correctness? It seems like everything that feels good physicallyis welcome, but spiritual health through Christ is not politically correct and must be rejected publically. Does the future concern you? Do you feel that the job of a Parish Nurse is secure?

    Thank you for your work with your patients and on this website. I've been reading your posts and the information is wonderfully presented!
  8. 0
    Hello Pokums93

    Welcome to Allnurses and the Parish Nurse Forum.



    Thank you for your kind comments. It is good to hear of your interest in Parish Nursing.

    I am glad that I have found a nursing job where I am able to blend both my strong religious beliefs with my nursing knowledge and experience. I feel that meeting the spiritual needs of the patient are as important as meeting the physical needs, as many people do rely on the devine power during times of health crises.

    You say that you have prayed for many patients and their families. That is fine providing that you either know of their religious affiliations (perhaps they are a member of your church or are an aquaintance) or you have done a spiritual assessment. It is important that you are praying with them in order to meet their needs and not your needs. I know I have to ask myself that frequently, especially when I am ministering to strangers. I know that not patients with whom I come in contact with share my beliefs. However, I am still able to address their needs without crossing boundaries 0r violating their personal belief system.

    I am very fortunate that I live and work in the Bible belt. My position as a Parish Nurse and the Parish Nurse program is strongly supported by the large hospital by which I am employed. This is evidenced by the fact that the Parish Nurse program survived recent heavy cutbacks by the hospital system. I know that this type of faith-promoting atmosphere is not prevalent everywhere.
  9. 0
    I agree that prayer needs to be done appropriately. I approach the patient as a nurse. I happily pray with them at their request.

    I've been a nurse for 20 years and have had multiple opportunities over that time period to make special relationships with my patients and their families. Working in ICU, family relations were as important, if not more important than the relationship with the patient. Often, the patient was unresponsive and it was the family that needed the shoulder to lean on.

    I could be mistaken, but I think most nurses join the profession because they are determined to help people. I love the idea of Parish nursing where you can openly tend their spiritual wounds as well as the physical. That is truly holistic care!

    I'm glad your hospital kept the parish nurse program. When we pray in the OR, we pull the curtain for privacy so as not to offend anyone not directly involved in the prayer. The patient's family or minister prays. We also have clergy on site if requested, but we don't have parish nurses.

    Someday when I retire, perhaps I can spend 20-30 hours each week as a parish nurse. It will probably be the most rewarding time of my career!


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