parish nurse     

Parish Nurses are registered nurses who respond to the holistic health needs of a faith community, such as a church, synagogue, cathedral, or mosque, and acknowledge common faith traditions. The Parish Nurse focuses on the spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions of people in their faith community and emphasizes health promotion and disease prevention. A Parish Nurse provides a plethora of services including, but not limited to, health education, personal health, counseling, referring members to community social services and health-care agencies, and assessing the physical, spiritual, mental, and psychological needs of his/her faith community. A Parish Nurse is part of a diverse interdisciplinary team including the pastoral staff, professional health care members, and lay volunteers who represent various aspects of the life of the congregational community (Stanhope, 2000). Through working with others in this interdisciplinary team, Parish Nursing fosters new and creative approaches to health concerns in their congregation. Parish Nursing holds that all persons are sacred and must be treated with respect and dignity. In response to this belief, the parish nurse empowers members of her faith community to take charge of their own health management and encourages members to understand and care for one another in light of their relationship to God (Solari-Twadell, 1994).

Requirements and Education

Generally, Parish Nursing is not appropriate for a nurse right out of graduation. Nurses who enter parish nursing should have at least a BSN. A masterís degree is usually desired, but a nurse can be qualified and hired by a congregation with just his or her bachelorís degree. A few universities in the United States offer graduate level programs in Parish Health Nursing, including Georgetown University and Marquette University in Wisconsin. Most congregations desire a nurse with a masterís degree specializing in community health nursing, holistic nursing, or mental health nursing. A professional nurse looking into Parish Nursing should have at least three to five years experience with a background in community health. A nurse must also have evidence of mature faith. Preparation and continuing education includes basic and enrichment courses in the nursing profession and also courses in pastoral care. A nurse with a strong commitment to his or her faith, the above education requirements, and a holistic approach to nursing, should consider the ever advancing, field of Parish Nursing.

Additional Websites on Parish Nursing

Advocate Health
Marquette University
Paisely Presbyterian
Human Care