Starting a Parish Nurse Program
For church leaders, parish nurses provide a source of support, filling a much-needed gap in health services and support within a community.
Parish nursing programs and health ministries centers on the relationship of mind, body and spirit, recognizing that health is not merely the absence of disease. Through this involvement, parish nurses and health ministers empower communities, fostering an environment of understanding.
Serving community needs
Parish nurses evaluate the unique needs of the congregation he or she serves and seek the means to meet them. These community assessments often lead to, but are not limited to the following programs:
- Blood pressure, cholesterol and other health screenings
- Health fairs
- Weight-loss and fitness programs
- Seminars on health topics
- Wellness information in weekly bulletins
- Support for hospitalized or homebound parish members and their families
- One-on-one health counseling.
While parish nurses fill a community gap, they do not replace the services of clergy or of primary healthcare providers.
To understand the role of a parish nurse, it is helpful to understand what a parish nurse is not:
- A parish nurse is not a physician and will not diagnose or treat illness.
- A parish nurse is not a home health nurse and will not dispense medications or provide treatments prescribed by a physician
- A parish nurse is not a therapist and will not do physical therapy, occupational therapy or psychotherapy.
- A parish nurses is not a clergy person. All parish nurses come to the field with a deep spiritual commitment, however.
The International Parish Nurse Resource Center offers a wealth of information for practicing parish nurses or nurses new to the specialty, including: