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Experience parish nursing International!

How wonderful it is when the blessings of travel open the door to new friendships and understanding of a culture! Let me tell you about my experience with twelve nurses in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this year, my husband and I traveled to Scotland to visit our youngest son who is pursuing his Masters Degree at the University of Edinburgh. Knowing that we would have some time to ourselves since he was still in class, I called the International Parish Nurse Resource Center to see if they could provide me with the name of a Parish Nurse in Edinburgh. I was hoping to have lunch with a local parish nurse and learn more about the joys and challenges of parish nurse ministry in the United Kingdom. Like all of us in parish nursing I am always looking for new ideas to strengthen and enhance the program I manage.

I was put in contact with the Rev. Helen Wordsworth RN, RM, RHV(tutor), M.Th, who serves as the Regional Minister, Central Baptist Association and Steering Committee Coordinator of Parish Nursing Ministries, UK. To my delight, I learned that Helen was going to be leading an introductory seminar for nurses interested in developing a parish nurse program, which would be hosted by Barbara MacFarlane. The nurses were gathering not far away in Dundee, an easy train ride north of Edinburgh.

My anticipation grew when I received an invitation to participate in the conference. I had the opportunity to tell the history of parish nursing in the US and the model of Parish Nursing supported by my hospital. It was a marvelous experience, one in which I learned about our similarities and the differences in our health delivery systems. What I also experienced was the bond of committed Nurses around the world sharing a passion for wholistic health and ministry to the people we serve.

So when you travel, whether in North America, Europe or anywhere else around the world, inquire before you go, and see if a parish nurse might be practicing near your journey.

The benefits that I received from this time with other Parish Nurses were multiple. I had a chance to fellowship with other nurses who were serving churches in a country which is even more secular than the United States. I heard their stories of the unique challenges they face developing a parish nurse program under the United Kingdom health delivery system, and I had a chance to share best practices.

Wherever you find yourself on vacation, take time to meet with another parish nurse. It will be a wonderful time of re-creation!

To learn more about parish nursing in the United Kingdom, visit the website of Parish Nursing Ministries, UK at For more information about parish nursing at Fairview Hospital in Cleveland, contact Gayle Donahue at or call her at 216-476-7324. If you are travelling abroad, and would like to connect with parish nurses there, visit the website of the IPNRC for a list of countries with parish nursing, and their websites, where available. More information at

Gayle Donahue, MSN, RN


Parish Nurse Program

Fairview Hospital

Cleveland, Ohio

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Author:Donahue, Gayle
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Previous Article:Parish Community Nurses working within the Healthy Village Action Zones Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), New Zealand.
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