Monday, August 25, 2014

What is Parish Nursing?

I'm really getting into the Faith Community Nurse Basic Course that I am taking. I've talked to a few friends and co-workers about it and have found that a lot of people are not familiar with the idea of a Parish Nurse (a.k.a. Faith Community Nurse, a.k.a. Congregational Nurse a.k.a health minister). I prepared a little information when I presented the idea to our Church Council that kind of explains a few things. I thought maybe I could share some of that information with you as well.

Sample Roles of a Parish Nurse:
Integrator of Faith and Healing
Health Educator
Health Counselor
Referral Advisor
Health Advocate
Developer of Support Groups
Volunteer Coordinator
Researcher of Available Resources

What a Parish Nurse is Not:
Doctor or any sort of Diagnostician
Hands-on Home Health Nurse
Physical, occupational or psychotherapist
Clergy

Sample of Topics a Parish Nurse Could Address:
Smoking Cessation
Insomnia Treatment
Weight Loss Programs
Exercise Programs
Oral Health
Loneliness
Church Safety (AED’s, First Aid Kits)
Praying with Church members
Preventative Education
Violence Prevention
Disaster Preparedness

A Parish Nursing Program can draw current and future parishioners closer into the church family.  As any pastor can tell you, people remember who was with them during their times of trial. It is an opportunity to be used by our God to show his love to those in need. 

Why do this? 
There are so many people who are hurting, frightened, lonely, etc.  Our healthcare system doesn’t always do a very good job of seeing patients with a wholistic approach, that is, they are not treated in a way that encompasses body, mind AND spirit...the whole person.  A Parish Nursing Program is a way to practice health and wellness with spirituality and faith woven throughout.

A Parish Nursing Program helps the pastor. A pastor spends a great deal of time with the sick. While a Parish Nurse would not want to take the pastor’s place in those situations, he/she can certainly assist the pastor to reach more people.

Of course I can't do all of those things myself, not while working full-time elsewhere. I'm hoping more will join me and eventually the program will grow. For now, it is starting quite small and slow.

How about any of you; do you have parish  nurses in your congregation? Are you a nurse interested in using your skills in a new way?


2 comments:

Lisa said...

Our congregation is very small, we don't have the population to offer that as a staff person. But we do have a few nurses who offer advice to people as they go through medical treatments. Usually people who are dealing with cancer diagnoses come to me or Pete. People who are dealing with heart issues usually make their way to Nancy or Glen. I guess we just see it as a congregational responsibility to care for each other's needs.

Susan said...

Our's is not a staff position either. It is something I am doing on my own time. I am hoping to get some other nurse volunteers as well. I have another full-time job so we have to start slow for now.