Parish nursing is a relatively new nursing specialty that focuses on promoting health within faith communities, ministering to the parishioners’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Far more than just “a nurse in the church”, the parish nurse is an experienced registered nurse with additional training who serves as part of the ministerial team to promote wellness and spiritual care within the congregation and community.
A parish nurse is not a primary care giver, but serves more as a bridge between the church and healthcare system. The parish nurse does not replace the doctor or the pastor, but assists both. Unlike the doctor, the parish nurse recognizes the importance of spiritual health; unlike the pastor, the parish nurse can provide medical support and assistance.
In 1997, the ANA recognized parish nursing as a specialty practice. The Standards and Scope of Parish Nursing was published in 1998, and revised in 2005. Parish nursing is a professional model of health ministry because the nurse is a registered professional nurse working according to the nurse practice act of the state in which he/she is practicing, while also complying with the identified standards of the practice. Since most nurses are not familiar with working in a congregation or the theological perspectives on health and healing, additional training is required.
Although parish nurses share the common goal of integrating faith and health, no two congregational ministries function the same way. Each ministry is dependent upon the demographics and needs of the congregation. Typically, the roles of the parish nurse will include the following areas:
- Health Educator – raises the health awareness level and promotes healthy lifestyles within the congregation through a variety of formats, seminars, conferences, and classes.
- Personal Health Counselor – discusses personal health problems, recommends medical intervention, answers questions regarding medications and medical tests, offers blood pressure screenings, etc.
- Visitation Minister - visits in the home, hospital, nursing home.
- Referral Source - helps members obtain needed services from church or community agencies or support groups.
- Volunteer Coordinator – recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers to respond to physical, mental, and spiritual needs in the church.
- Client Advocate –intervenes for the patient as necessary in the hospital or office setting by talking to the nursing/medical staff.
Last edit by tnbutterfly on Sep 19, '13