Root Assumptions
Parish Nursing is rooted… in all faith traditions, consistent with the basic assumptions that we care for self and others as an expression of God’s love.

Mission of Parish Nursing
The mission of parish nursing is the intentional integration of the practice of faith with the practice of nursing so that people can achieve wholeness in, with, and through the community of faith in which parish nurses work.

Purpose of Parish Nursing
1. Challenge the nursing profession to reclaim the spiritual dimension of nursing care
2. Challenge the health care system to provide whole person care
3. Challenge the faith community to restore its healing mission

Strategic Vision of Parish Nursing
Access to a parish nurse ministry in every faith community

The above statements were developed at the Fourteenth Annual Westberg Symposium, “Weaving Parish Nursing into the New Millennium” presented by the International parish Nurse Resource Center, 2000.

Faith Community Nursing

Faith Community Nursing practice is also known as parish or congregational nursing. Regardless of the name used by a faith community to identify the nurse who serves on its ministry staff, the nurse and the practice are guided by the Faith Community Nursing Scope & Standards of Practice published by the American Nurses Association (ANA) . The American Nurses Association is the recognized professional organization for nurses in the United States. ANA sets universal standard for nursing care and professional performance common to all nurses engaged in clinical practice – Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice. Based on the generic standards, the American Nurses Association recognizes specialty nursing practice by identifying the specialty and delineating its unique scope and standards of practice. The Faith Community Nursing Scope & Standards of Practice were developed from the generic standards in cooperation with the Health Ministries Association, Inc., adopted and officially recognized by the ANA in 1998.

Faith Community Nursing practice is an independent practice of professional nursing. It is defined by the jurisdiction’s (Florida) nursing practice act, and focuses on health promotion within the context of the client’s (faith community, family or individual) values, beliefs and faith practices. Based on the Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice, the faith-based nurse maintains standards of care as demonstrated by the nursing process – assessment, diagnosis, planning (outcomes), implementation, and evaluation – to all members of the faith and extended community. And, s/he practices according to the standards of professional performance that describe competencies in a variety of behaviors within the parish nurse role: quality of care, performance appraisal, education, collegiality, ethics, collaboration, research, and resource utilization. Together the standard of care and professional practice define faith-based nursing practice.

Health Ministry

Faith Community Nursing is a part of a broader outreach - health ministry. A health ministry focuses on the health and healing needs of the members of a faith community and its extended community. In faith communities people find connectedness, encouragement, hope and love. Health ministries continue this tradition by centering on caring presence, listening and teaching. Examples of health ministries include: visiting the homebound or sick; encouraging healthy lifestyles; providing support – individually or in groups; presenting information on health promotion and disease prevention; monitoring individual concerns/needs; connecting through written or telephone communications; etc. Health ministry is any extension of the faith community that is perceived as caring. It does not require a medical background. Any person can be involved in health ministry. It merely requires a heart for caring, time and training directed toward improved listening skills, therapeutic communications and spiritual presence. Health ministry and parish nursing frequently coexist and sometimes the parish nurse is the staff person responsible for the congregation's outreach in the community.

Faith Community Nursing

Qualifications: Since Faith Community Nursing is an independent practice, the International Parish Nurse Resource Center specifies that the requirements for parish nursing include:

  • a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing

  • five (5) plus years experience in medical surgical nursing

  • community assessment skills

  • health counseling skills

  • Community health experience (preferred)

  • Completion of the “standard curriculum for parish nursing” developed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. (Programs)

Roles: Parish nurses function within the parameters of seven (7) major roles. These are:

  1. Health Educator – focusing on a variety of educational activities for all ages that explore the relationship between values, attitudes, lifestyle, faith and health.

  2. Personal Health Counselor – assisting individuals to deal with health issues and problems and may include hospital, home, nursing home, etc. visits.

  3. Referral Agent – providing congregational and community resources for healing and wellness.

  4. Health Advocate – encouraging all systems (congregant, faith community, primary health resources) to find the best solution for healing and wholeness - body, mind and spirit.

  5. Facilitator of Volunteers – recruiting and coordinating resources within the faith community to serve in its various health ministries.

  6. Developer of Support Groups – facilitating the development of support groups to meet member needs and those of the external community.

  7. Integrator of Faith and Health – seeking, in all activities and contacts, to promote the understanding of the relationship between faith and health.

Job Description: The job description for the faith-based nurse, although common in functions, is fashioned within the parameters of the denomination or faith community it serves. This position is designed to provide whole person health promotion and disease prevention services and spiritual care. The major accountabilities and position activities are listed below. For a more complete description of the accountabilities access the International Parish Nurse Resource Center Information for Parish Nurses.

I. Accountabilities
A. Health Educator
B. Personal Health Counselor
C. Referral Agent
D. Health Advocate
E. Trainer of Volunteers
F. Developer of Support Groups
G. Integrator of Faith and Health

II. Position Activities
A. Management
B. Professional Development
C. Professional Education
D. Research

III. Employment Conditions
A. Hours/week (minimum is 10)
B. Salary (not less than $25/hour)
C. Benefits (may include: holidays, vacation, health insurances, retirement plan, continuing education funds, travel re-imbursement, etc.)
D. Liability Insurance
E. Office environment
F. Budget for program
G. Confidentiality statement