Parish nursing, also known as faith community nursing, integrates the practice of nursing with the beliefs of religious doctrine to care for patients within their religious community or parish. More specifically, the American Nurses Association (ANA) defines the profession as ‘the specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as a part of the process of promoting holistic health and preventing or minimizing illness in a faith community.' Parish nursing, as a nursing specialty, is relatively new and began during the 1980s in Chicago. However, it wasn't recognized by the ANA in until 1998.
Some duties carried out by parish nurses include:
Parish nurses are typically employed by religious organizations. Common places of employment include:
Parish nurses should be community-oriented, possess a strong drive to help others, and have both an unshakeable faith and knowledge base which informs their spiritual beliefs as well as their nursing practice. A mix of education and clinical experience is required, along with a knowledge of and positive relationship to the faith-based community they plan to serve in.
Like the vast majority of nursing specialties, to become an RN who is board certified in faith community nursing an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) is required. Some organizations will prefer nurses with BSN degrees since they have undergone education and training in community and public health - a large element of parish/faith nursing. After earning their RN license, prospective parish nurses will need to complete some continuing education courses before they can sit for the certification exam.
Yes, parish nurses need to possess an active and unencumbered RN license, should have some experience in the field, and have a number of continuing education hours in order to obtain the faith community nursing certifications.
Technically, there aren't any specific credentials or certifications that an individual is required to have in order to practice parish/faith nursing. However, the American Nurses Credentialing Center does offer a Faith Community Nursing Certification (RN-BC). To be eligible for this certification, you will need the following:
Certifications are valid for five years.
Continuing education courses on parish nursing are available through the Ministry of Church Health and include the following:
Religion and healthcare are as old as time itself, and there has always been a strong link between the two. For those who want a career that's directly aligned with their values, becoming a parish/faith community nurse would be an excellent career choice.
According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for a parish nurse lands at around $60,000. Factors that will contribute to the pay rates of parish nurses include things like the geographical location of their employment, their education levels, the nature of the religious organization who employs them, their credentials, and the amount of experience that they have. As a parish nurse who would be employed by a religious organization, it would also be reasonable to assume that some medical, vision, and/or dental coverage would be taken care of by the organization. The same goes for receiving paid-time off each year. However, these things will inevitably vary from organization to organization.