The service of Church Nursing originated from the Christian principles of compassion and cared for one and all. It is also referred to as Parish Nursing, Congregational Nursing, or Faith Community Nursing. The modern profession of church nursing was initiated in 1984 in America, with the efforts and guidance of Granger E. Westberg, a parish pastor of ELCA. Rev. Westberg also served as a hospital chaplain and professor, credited with pioneering holistic healthcare programs that combined medicine and religious beliefs.
A parish nurse, also known as a faith community nurse, is a nurse who cares for members of a parish or faith community. Parish nurses acquire a license after completing the necessary education in nursing. They help people identify and fulfill important healthcare needs in alignment with the culture, traditions, and beliefs of the faith community.
Given below is the essential information regarding the educational qualifications, duties, and compensation of parish nurses:
Educational and Licensure Criteria
To become a parish or church nurse, you must be registered and possess an active license. RN (Registered Nurse) obtains license after completing a basic nursing course like a bachelor’s or associate degree in nursing or a diploma program in nursing. The duration of these courses is generally 2-4 years. After passing graduation, the nursing students must clear NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) to get the required license. The ANA (American Nurses Association) states the scope and standards of practice for church nurses. However, no particular certification exists for faith community nursing.
While the nurses can also pursue a master’s degree or doctorates for further specializations, it is not a compulsory licensure requirement.
The IPNRC (International Parish Nurse Resource Center) set an ideal curriculum for the educational institutes to follow. Several reputed universities and schools extend educational programs in church nursing. For instance, North Carolina’s Gardner-Webb University provides a master’s in a faith community or parish nursing and care, in alliance with the School of Divinity. Similarly, Alabama’s Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing offers a certificate program in parish nursing, and Tennessee’s Union University School of Nursing has a course in parish nursing. Besides, the Parish Nursing Institute’s Virginia Parish Nurse Educational Program is devised to provide specialized training to the church nurses.
What does a parish nurse do? – Duties and Responsibilities
Parish nurses serve as referral sources and health educators for the community as well as the volunteers. They perform various tasks, including:
- Educating the volunteers and training the caregivers
- Imparting knowledge on the interconnection between health and faith.
- Visiting congressional members to address their health concerns
- Educating community members on moral health and ethical issues
- Organizing and managing health fairs and similar events
Besides educating and nursing, the church nurses may also hold prayers for the faster recovery, healing, acceptance, and serenity of the patients. Further, there are also parish nurses belonging to other faiths like Islam, Judaism, etc.
Compensation and Work Environment
Though most of the church nurses are volunteers or retired professionals, some also work for pay. As per one of the July ’11 articles of the Orlando Sentinel, the WPHF (Winter Park Health Foundation) lends grants to support parish nurses’ salaries.
Generally, parish nurses work in communities, churches, and homes of the congressional members. Their work is often associated with the public health departments since the community health services are usually extended by public health nurses.
Parish Nurse 2020 Salary Statistics for RNs
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides no specific estimate for parish nurses’ salaries, but it states that the median annual income of all RNs was $75000 in 2020. The highest 10% of the nurses received above $111,220, while the lowest 10% were paid below $52,080. In the year 2020, a total of 3,200,700 people was hired as RNs in the US. The employment of RNs is expected to increase by 8% in the next ten years.