Faith Community Nursing (FCN) / Parish Nurse

Updated | Published
by tnbutterfly - Mary tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN (Admin)

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Faith Community Nursing is a relatively new nursing specialty that focuses on promoting health within faith communities and ministering to the parishioners' physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

How Can I Become a Faith Community Nurse?

Faith Community Nursing (FCN) / Parish Nurse


Far more than just "a nurse in the church", the Faith Community Nurse (FCN), or Parish Nurse, is an experienced Registered Nurse (RN) with additional training who serves as part of the ministerial team to promote wellness and spiritual care within the congregation and community.

The Faith Community Nurse is not a primary caregiver, but serves more as a bridge between the church and healthcare system. The nurse does not replace the doctor or the pastor, but assists both.

  • Unlike the doctor, the FCN recognizes the importance of spiritual health
  • Unlike the pastor, the FCN can provide medical support and assistance

Parish Nursing Recognized as Faith Community Nursing (FCN)

In 1997, the American Nurses Association (ANA) recognized Parish Nursing as a specialty practice. The Standards and Scope of Parish Nursing was published in 1998 and revised in 2005.

According to the ANA, "Parish Nursing was officially recognized as Faith Community Nursing in 2005 to reflect the full range of faiths in the United States". In 2017, the ANA published the 3rd edition Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice and Faith Community Nursing reflected the new specialty name.

Roles of the Faith Community Nurse

Faith Community nursing is a professional model of health ministry because the individual 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 often required.

Although the FCN shares 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 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/Integrator of Faith and Health

Visits in the home, hospital, nursing home providing spiritual care.

Referral Agent

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/Navigator

Intervenes for the patient as necessary in the hospital or office setting by talking to the nursing/medical staff.


  • Graduate of an accredited RN nursing program. Note that most employers hire the BSN-prepared RN.
  • Degree:
    • Diploma
    • ADN
    • BSN, or higher
  • Successfully passed NCLEX-RN
  • Current, unencumbered RN license in U.S. state of practice
  • Successfully complete a faith-based nursing program (optional)

Certificates and Certifications (not all-inclusive)

Shenandoah University

Shenandoah University’s Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing offers the Foundations of Faith Community Nurse Course. Currently (2020), the course is offered via virtual, online via Zoom, and tentatively, in-person.

West Virginia University (WVU)

WVU's Faith Community Nursing (FCN) course is an online program (with face-to-face optional sessions). It is open to not only RNs, but to chaplains, pastors, social workers and others. However, only RNs who complete the course can use the title Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

Westberg Institute

In addition to the aforementioned universities, the Westberg Institute offers Faith Community Nursing courses in several locations of the U.S.

Concordia University Wisconsin 

The university offers an undergraduate Parish Nursing Certificate.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

The ANCC offers the Faith Community Nursing Re-Certification (RN-BC)*.

Re-Certification Eligibility  (not all-inclusive)

  • Mandatory 75 Continuing Education hours (CH) and 1 or more of the 8 renewal categories for your certification credential within 5 years preceding renewal application submission
  • All APRNs (CNS and NP) required to complete 25 CH of pharmacotherapeutics as a portion of the mandatory 75CH in the CNS or NP certification held
  • Current ANCC certification that is expiring within 12 months
  • Current, unencumbered RN license in a state or territory of the U.S.

*NOTE: This ANCC certification/credential is available for renewal only.

Salary (2020)

Many Faith Community/Parish Nurses work under a volunteer model or are paid a stipend.  They may be paid through a grant, by a single congregation, or by multiple congregations through which they serve. While the percentage of paid FNC's is growing, salary is not what validates or is the reason why many nurses choose this path.  Their rewards are manifested in other ways.

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Hello!! I am the Content & Community Director for allnurses and have been a member since 2006. As a BSN RN for more than 35 years, I have experience in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nursing, Home Health, Psych, Parish Nursing and Social Media. Please don't hesitate to contact me about questions or comments regarding the site.

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