Parish Nursing

nurses

If you have thought about doing something completely different with your nursing credentials, pursuing a specialty as a parish nurse could be a fulfilling opportunity for you. Parish nursing, an interdisciplinary nursing program, prepares candidates for service within various religious-based settings. You could contribute to spiritual aspects of patient health and wellbeing.

Education Requirements for Parish Nursing

Nursing programs offering the unique specialty of parish nursing integrate advanced nursing practice with theological knowledge and professional ministerial skills. These programs address the health, spiritual and ethical concerns of many faith communities and their neighbors. Mission outreach, health advocacy, and social ethics are issues addressed within this nursing specialization.

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) parish nursing program ensures that extensive theological knowledge and ministerial skills become an essential part of this advanced nursing practice. To enter graduate nursing school, you must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and earn a solid score. Parish nursing programs often cater to working professionals by offering evening classes, part time study, and summer courses. Many clinical experiences are customized to meet mature students’ individual needs. They cover diverse ethnic groups as well as the poor and/or homeless.

Certain courses within this particular nursing specialty may accept ministry students who are already ordained members of the clergy, or those who are currently enrolled in ministerial ordination degree programs. These students desire an interdisciplinary approach, emphasizing the integration of congregants’ health and spirituality, as well as health promotion within their religious denominations. The specific ministry requirements of these students may include family health ministries, elderly health ministries, child/youth health ministries, or perhaps women’s health ministries.

Parish Nurse Certification

Parish nurses do not acquire additional certification for this specialty. However, most are Master’s prepared APNs with a post-graduate certification in parish nursing from an accredited nursing school. Once you finish an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, you must pass the National Certification Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to use the title of “RN.”

Parish Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries

Since not all churches or parish communities hire parish nurses, job opportunities and paid positions can sometimes be very challenging to find, though not impossible. Many parish nurses serve as unpaid volunteers, while others do get an income from their church or community center where they work. Salaries for parish nursing staff can fluctuate a great deal from one religious institution to another. This type of nurse earns anywhere from $500 to $1,500 on a monthly basis.

Job Duties of the Parish Nurse

A parish nurse serves as a valuable member of the ministerial staff of a given church. They work in collaboration with any ordained clergy responsible for the parish congregation. A parish nurse actively contributes to a congregation’s health ministry and assists with the ongoing spiritual care of its parishioners. These nurses educate faith members on many relevant health topics and give valuable counseling.

Parish nursing professionals serve all patients within a particular faith community from infancy, through adulthood, and to the elderly. Many parish nurses employ a holistic approach to healing. This means they view healthcare as a balance between body and mind. They feel this balance is essential in achieving overall health and wellness.

Summary

Healthcare provided by parish nursing professionals concentrates on matters of religious faith. Parish Nurses may work in community centers and parish churches of differing religious denominations, but their common goal is the spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing of their parish patients. Now that you know what it takes to be a parish nurse, consider making this specialty your career choice.

Resources

ANA (2013): http://nursingworld.org/

ParishNurses.Org (2013): http://www.parishnurses.org/

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