Parish Nursing

Parish nursing is a recognized specialty practice that combines professional nursing and health ministry. Parish nursing emphasizes health and healing within a faith community. The philosophy of parish nursing embraces four major concepts: spiritual formation; professionalism; shalom as health and wholeness; and community, incorporating culture and diversity. The practice of parish nursing focuses on a faith community. A parish nurse, in collaboration with the pastoral staff and congregants, participates in the ongoing transformation of the faith community into sources of health and healing. Through partnership with other community health resources, parish nursing fosters new and creative responses to health and wellness concerns. The parish nurse serves the faith community, creates safe and sacred places for healing, and advocates with compassion, mercy, and dignity.

  • The spiritual dimension is central to parish nursing practice. Personal spiritual formation is an ongoing, essential component of practice for the parish nurse and includes both self-care and hospitality, through opening the heart to self and others.
  • The parish nurse role reclaims the historic roots of professional nursing. The parish nurse practices under the scope and standards of practice and the ethical code of nursing as set forth in their country.
  • The parish nurse understands health to be a dynamic process that embodies the spiritual, psychological, physical, and social dimensions of the person.

A parish nurse serves as a practitioner of a specialized patient care population including, but not limited to, making visits to follow up or provide appropriate treatment, assessing patient progress, evaluating clinical data and providing information on appropriate care and/or education sessions. Conducts follow up visits with specialized patient population to assess progress including, but not limited to, weight, growth, behavioral issues and appearance, pain control and symptom management; identify patient needs and schedule follow ups or recommend lab tests as necessary.

Parish nurse education includes content and processes that support the evolution of spiritual formation, knowledge, attitudes and skills. Parish nurse education occurs at several levels. The basic preparation curriculum is written at the Baccalaureate level. The curriculum can be offered through continuing education or for-credit courses at the Baccalaureate or higher degree level. Parish nurses are expected to participate in life-long learning. Continuing education includes content and processes to support spiritual formation, nursing knowledge enhancement, and skill development. At the Master's level, parish nurse education involves expanded application of theory, research utilization and population-focused interventions, as well as, theological/pastoral care content.

Most parish nurses would probably describe the rewards of the job as intrinsic and spiritual in nature, rather than monetary. Many parish nurses are unpaid volunteers. Others, however, do get paid, either by the church or the congregation itself.

National Health Ministries, 2009
American Nurses Association, 2009