Parish nursing introduced in South America.
Last winter, the IPNRC received an invitation from the Adventist College of Bahia State in Brazil to speak about the specialty practice of parish nursing, the role it plays in health care, and the impact of parish nurse actions on their clients. On May 11, 2009, I had the pleasure of addressing 140 of their nursing students along with a number of theology students at a special three day presentation titled, "Parish Nursing--Holistic Health." This educational event was scheduled around National Nursing Day and was designed to explore and create interest in parish nursing. The planning team also hoped it would initiate discussion about adaptations necessary for Brazil and its health care delivery system.
Over the next three days, students and professors were presented with information regarding the philosophy, history and benefits of parish nursing. During discussion of the roles and functions of parish nurses, stories from practicing parish nurses were used to paint pictures of the benefits of wholistic care. I did not need the interpreter to tell me the students were connecting with the topic. Throughout the three days, heads were bobbing, emotion was displayed, and questions were asked that indicated wholistic health is truly global.
The driving force behind parish nursing in Brazil is Gina Andrade Abdala, RN, Coordinator of the Nursing Program and Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Religion and Health at Adventist College of Bahia State. She completed the Parish Nurse Basic Prep course in 2005 and believes in the importance of combining faith and health. Through her efforts, the students were exposed to a way of nursing that combines their medical expertise and faith. By the program's close, more than twenty-five students expressed an interest in developing Brazil's version of parish nursing.
Gina and the students didn't waste time. Within a couple of weeks, Gina began the "Scientific Initiation of Parish Nursing" with seven students and two nursing instructors to oversee the research and supervise the students. She is also developing a proposal for the Ethical Committee on Research that will allow the group to talk to clients in the school's clinics and to interview them about their spiritual health. As spiritual needs are discovered, the group will direct the clients to the appropriate spiritual caregiver and chart results of the care.
To see others this excited and committed to parish nursing is inspiring. Ms. Abdala and the students of Adventist College have embraced wholistic health and are initiating work that will be exciting and important to the work of parish nursing. We are excited to watch them implement this practice and design research that will further our specialty.
Thank you to the Westberg Family for their generous contribution which made this class possible. We are grateful for the vision and on-going support which the Westberg Family continues to provide for the growth and development of parish nursing.