Parish Nurse

What Is a Parish Nurse?

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
  • Hospitals
  • Churches

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.

Step 2: Required Parish Nurse Certifications/Credentials

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:

  • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
  • 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
    • Presentation
    • Academic credits
    • Evidence-Based Practice Quality Improvement - Publication or Research
    • Professional service
    • Preceptor hours

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
  • Educator 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.

How Much Do Parish Nurses Make per Year?

  • $39,000 – $86,000 annually

How Much Do Parish Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $25.82 average hourly wage

Parish Nurse Resources