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.
What Are Some Parish Nurse Duties?
Some duties carried out by parish nurses include:
Train, coordinate, and mentor volunteers
Visit sick members of the congregation at home and in the hospital
Provide spiritual support to patients
Form and lead support groups within churches
Educate patients on preventative health techniques
Provide health screenings for members of the church
Act as a go-between for patients, the community, and other members of the healthcare team
Incorporate mind-body-spirit holistic techniques to assist parishioners to maintain health
Assist patients to make necessary lifestyle changes for health
Provide counseling to patients who have health-related problems
Serve as a patient advocate
Educate patients about the importance of faith in maintaining one's health and wellness
Assess the healthcare needs of the congregation and community
Respond to issues related to addiction, substance abuse, and domestic violence within families who are a part of the congregation
Where Do Parish Nurses Work?
Parish nurses are typically employed by religious organizations. Common places of employment include:
Community health clinics
How to Become a Parish Nurse
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.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
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.
Do Parish Nurses Need an RN Degree?
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.
Have the equivalent of two or more years of clinical experience as an RN
Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in the field of parish/faith nursing in the previous three years
Accumulate 75 hours of continuing education in parish/faith nursing in the previous three years
Satisfy two of the following professional development categories
Evidence-Based Practice Quality Improvement - Publication or Research
Certifications are valid for five years.
Continuing education courses on parish nursing are available through the Ministry of Church Health and include the following:
Foundations of Faith Community Nursing
Faith Community Nursing Coordinator Course
Parish Nursing Jobs, Salary & Employment
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.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Ability to take on a wide variety of tasks/patients/situations, independent, excellent interpersonal communication abilities, strong faith, empathy and compassion, ability to work with hands, ability to handle stressful and highly emotional situations, community-oriented
Job Outlook - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job openings for RNs will increase by 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. Although there isn't any specific data on the field of faith community nursing, it would be reasonable to assume that this field is likely to see a similar rate of growth as the field of traditional nursing.
What Is the Average Salary of a Parish Nurse?
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.