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Faith Community Nursing growth in Oklahoma.

A statewide Faith Community Nursing Resource Center has opened to support nurses, churches and synagogues as they develop and maintain health ministry services for their congregants, announced Marilyn Seiler, center manager. The center was established by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in cooperation with the Faith Community Nurses Association of Oklahoma (FCNA OK).

Seiler said faith community nurses are registered nurses who minister to the whole person--physically, socially, emotionally, and especially spiritually. They serve as health educators; personal health counselors; referral sources for church and community services; advocates; and facilitators of volunteer health ministers.

She said faith community nursing, also known as parish nursing, is the fastest growing specialty in nursing nationwide. According to a recent survey by the National Council of Churches, 18 percent of the 11 national church bodies represented in the survey have parish nurses.

"Oklahoma is leading the national trend," Seiler said. "What began in the 1990s with two part-time nurses hired by St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and assigned to St. Mary's Catholic Parish has evolved into a statewide training and resource center for more than 150 nurses of all faiths."

Seiler said the specialty in Oklahoma took root in Tulsa in 1993 when Marilyn Whitson developed a proposal and business plan as a project for her bachelor's degree completion program. She eventually implemented the proposal at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, becoming the first parish nurse in the state.

In 1999 at Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City in cooperation with Oklahoma Christian University, Mary Diane Steltenkamp developed the Parish Nurse Basic Preparation program which since has trained more than 150 nurses representing at least 12 different religions. Seiler said the Catholic Charities program name recently was changed from Parish Nursing to Faith Community Nursing to include nurses in churches and synagogues that do not refer to themselves as "parish" nurses and to reflect the American Nurses Association (ANA) revised "Scope and Standards of Faith Community Nursing."

Steltenkamp said Catholic Charities received a grant this year from the Butterfield Memorial Foundation to expand the training and resource center statewide. The grant enabled Catholic Charities, in cooperation with the FCNA OK--a professional nursing association--to open the Faith Community Nursing Resource Center.

Seiler said the resource center's goals are to:

* Advocate for statewide health issues from the context of faith with special emphasis for people outside the traditional church focus.

* Collaborate with other organizations with a faith and/or health focus.

* Support activities of FCNA-OK.

* Develop regional support entities for faith community nurses.

She said the grant also allows the center to continue to provide the basic preparation course twice annually, offer ongoing education for faith community nurses, and fund a documentation program that captures statistics of services provided by the nurses. Seiler said the statistical database will help the center "put a dollar value on faith community services," which currently are provided on a largely volunteer basis.

The next basic preparation training will be conducted Oct. 28 to Nov. 3. The course utilizes the standardized core curricula developed through the International Parish Nurse Resource Center, in consultation with NLN (National League for Nursing) and the ANA credentialing center. The curriculum was developed in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but has been successfully adapted to all faith traditions, Seiler said.

More information about the center may be obtained by contacting Seiler at (405) 523-3009 or
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Title Annotation:ONA News
Publication:Oklahoma Nurse
Geographic Code:1U7OK
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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