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Faith community nursing.

Faith community nursing (also known as parish nursing) is the specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as a part of the process of promoting wholistic health and preventing or minimizing illness within a faith community. Intentional care of the spirit makes the difference from other nursing care (ANA & HMA, 2005).

This specialized practice involves nurses in their faith communities assisting people in regards to health issues of the body, mind and spirit. The faith community nurse (FCN) is knowledgeable in two areas--professional nursing and spiritual care. The goal of an FCN is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities; prevention of illness and injury; and responding to suffering in the context of the values, beliefs, and practices of a faith community such as a church, congregation, parish, synagogue, temple, or mosque (ANA & HMA, 2005).

Historically, Granger Westberg (1914-1999) a Lutheran pastor, hospital chaplain, teacher and author was a pioneer in the field of pastoral care. During his 50-year career, he developed an interest in bridging medicine and religion in the care of patients, from a wholistic view. This concept led to the development of the parish nurse movement in the 1970's. His original concept was to develop wholistic health clinics in neighborhood churches in upper, middle and lower income areas in the Chicago area, but as inflation swept America, it became too expensive to maintain the clinics. It was clear to many that nurses were the glue to the success of these clinics due to their ability to speak the language of science and the language of religion. Dr. Westberg and his supporters felt if the nurses in the clinics proved so valuable, why not try placing a nurse on the staff of a congregation and see what happens? This is the beginning of parish nursing. Dr. Westberg initially planned the nurses serving in their congregation would be a salaried position, but the majority of churches expressed concerns regarding their budgets and their ability to support another paid position. Therefore, even though some are paid the majority of parish nurses receive no financial compensation for providing their services (Solari-Twadell & McDermott, 1999).

The late Patricia Peer RN, well known in Nevada for her many talents in nursing learned about parish nursing when visiting family in the mid-west. She brought the concept back to Reno, in 1994, specifically to Saint Mary's Hospital. Sr. Jeremy Carmody asked and received approval from the board of directors to begin a program at the hospital. Saint Mary's sponsored the program from February 1994 until May 2005, graduating 125 nurses from all denominations, nationally and internationally.

The parish nurses in the Truckee Meadows desired to continue their services to their faith communities, their community as a whole and support from one other by developing a new group. They initiated a chapter of the Health Ministries Association, Inc. (HMA). HMA a national non-profit organization, which offers a support network for people of faith who promote whole-person health through faith groups in the communities they serve. In February 2005, the Northern Nevada Truckee Meadows Chapter was recognized as an official chapter of the HMA, Inc. FCN and other persons interested in whole person health within our community are invited to become involved.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) and the HMA, Inc. updated the foundational book of this speciality, Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice in June of 2005, from their first edition published in 1998. The book articulates the essentials of this nursing speciality, its activities and accountabilities--the who, what, when, where, and how of practice--at all care levels and settings. The book answers the above questions, providing a complete picture of the practice, its boundaries, and its membership. The title, parish nurse, is current, but has evolved into the title of faith community nurse, to encompass a diversity of faith traditions (ANA & HMA, 2005). The HMA Chapter of Northern Nevada has a copy for examination.

The FCN uses the nursing process, an excellent tool, providing a framework for the delivery of all nursing care. The nursing process is assessing, diagnosising, planning, implementing and evaluating a client's concern using nursing diagnoses, nursing interventions and nursing outcomes. The practice of a faith community nurse is an independent versus dependent practice, which means the nurses use nursing diagnoses rather than medical diagnoses. The nursing process is described as the central core of nursing care. A major advantage of the nursing process is its ability to be used as a framework within any setting and with any client whether a single person, a family or special population... (Solari-Twadell & McDermott, 1999, pp. 224-225).

Faith community nurses have many opportunities to speak with people, informally between services, during coffee hours, at meetings, fellowship meals and in-home with the sick or homebound, extending to the community an opportunity for care which otherwise may not be met. The professional activities of the FCN may include assisting clients with the integration of their faith with their health needs, as a health educator, personal health counselor, identifier of appropriate referral resources, and a health advocate. Appropriate and effective practice as an FCN requires the ability to integrate current nursing, behavioral, environmental, and spiritual knowledge with the unique spiritual beliefs and practices of the faith community into a program of wholistic nursing care (ANA & HMA, 2005).

It is strongly recommended a registered nurse prepare for this speciality by attending one of the many educational opportunities provided by several colleges in the United States. The courses are provided in a classroom setting or online. The International Parish Nurse Resource Center (IPNRC) has developed the curriculum utilized by the providers of this specialty education. The IPNRC web site, which is listed in the resources below, provides a directory of the educational offerings. In addition, a national committee has been organized to develop a certification for the specialty, which should be implemented in 23 years. Please contact the HMA or the IPNRC for more information regarding this process.


Health Ministries Association, Inc. 1-800-280-9919 http://

Health Ministries Association of No. Nevada Truckee Meadows Chapter, Contact Information: hmannttmc@sbcglobal. net

International Parish Nurse Resource Center, 475 E. Lockwood Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63119, (314) 918-2559, http://www.ipnrc. org


American Nurses Association & Health Ministries Association (2005). Faith community nursing: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD:

Solari-Twadell, P. A. & McDermott, M. A. (1999). Parish nursing: Promoting whole person health within faith communities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Bobbeye Bowes RNC, MSN attends Summit Christian Church in Sparks, where she serves as a faith community nurse. Bobbeye attended Saint Mary's Parish Nurse Education Institute in 2002. She is an educator at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno

Candace Conradt RN, MSN attends Sparks Foursquare Church, is a faith community nurse, a member of the Health Ministries Association and a friend of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center (IPNRC). This all started in 1996 when she attended Saint Mary's Parish Nurse Education Institute. Her desire is to re-establish a faith community nursing educational program in our state so nurses may continue to participate in this ministry of faith and health, benefiting the citizens of Nevada. In addition, she is a nursing instructor at Western Nevada College in Carson City.
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Title Annotation:Parish Nursing
Author:Bowes, Bobbeye; Conradt, Candace
Publication:Nevada RNformation
Geographic Code:1U8NV
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Previous Article:The joys of a Parish Nurse.
Next Article:The journey.

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