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Common questions regarding parish nursing:

What is Parish Nurse Ministries?
What are the different organizational frameworks for parish nursing?
How does one begin the development of a parish nurse program?
How long does it take to establish a parish nurse ministry?
Why is attendance at the basic preparation course in parish nursing recommended?
How much does a parish nurse ministry cost?
What about liability insurance?
What can I do to prepare to have a parish nurse ministry as part of the congregation I serve?
How many parish nurse ministries are there?
How can the International Parish Nurse Resource Center assist me in this process?

What is the ministry of parish nursing practice?

Parish nursing is a health promotion, disease prevention ministry based on the care of the whole person.There are seven key functions functions of the Parish Nurse. These functions are integrator of faith and health, health educator, personal health counselor, referral agent, trainer of volunteers (Health Ministry associates), developer of support groups and health advocate. This nursing role does not embrace the medical model of care or invasive practices such as injections, medical treatments, dressings etc. It is a professional model of health ministry using a registered professional nurse. The focus of the practice is the faith community and its ministry. This ministry is intended on being integrated into the life of the congregation revitalizing the mission of health and healing of the congregation with the parish nurse being a regular member of the ministerial staff (Solari-Twadell & McDermott, 1999).

What are the different organizing frameworks for the ministry of parish nursing practice?

There are four basic organizing frameworks for the ministry of parish nursing practice. There are derivations of these frameworks that have developed over time. The four organizing frameworks are:

Institutional/paid — The nurse is paid in the parish nurse position. The pay for the position may be generated from the institution of the congregation. In some instances the nurse may be an employee of the institution and the congregation will contract with the institution for a specific nurses services. There is a contract or covenant between the congregation and institution that specifies the roles, responsibilities and contributions of each party. The institution may be a health care system, school of nursing, community coalition, home care agency, long term care facility, diocese or other incorporated entity.


Institutional/unpaid — The nurse is not paid for the services provided in the parish nurse position. However, there is a covenant or agreement between the congregation and institution regarding the theological reflection and continuing education of the nurse as well as consultation on the documentation of services rendered and maintenance of health records in the congregation.


Congregational/paid — The nurse is paid and there is no relationship with an institution. This will require the nurse and/or congregation to develop written guidelines that describe the nature of the ministry and how continuing education and opportunities for ongoing spiritual formation are provided for the nurse.


Congregational/unpaid — The nurse is not paid or compensated for the time given in this ministry. This requires the nurse and/or congregation to develop written guidelines that describe the nature of the ministry and how continuing education and ongoing spiritual formation is provided for the nurse.

How does one begin the development of a parish nurse ministry?

Education on the ministry of parish nursing practice is ongoing, but essential for initiating the work. Important early in the work is to help individuals gain an appropriate mindset of the congregation as a health place in the community, health as being whole person oriented and more than physical, and the nurse as being other than the provider of medication, dressing changes and other physical care. Attending the Annual Westberg Symposium is an excellent source to learn about parish nursing and network with others nationally and internationally involved in parish nursing. Identification of local resources is also important. It is equally important to contact denominational offices to see what resource they may have available to assist in this work. Some denominations may have a designated parish nurse consultant for their denomination. Once the education has begun it is helpful to establish a task force that can do some of the basic work while keeping the congregation informed of progress.

How long does it take to establish a parish nurse ministry?

Often times those interested in developing a parish nurse ministry perceive it as a simple endeavor requiring little time effort and resources. Like any other ministry being introduced into the congregation, if it is to sustain over time, careful planning and implementation need to be provided. Often the early work of mindset development and education can be time consuming. It must be considered that the work group will meet probably once a month for two hours. This reflects the voluntary nature of the work and the importance of developing a sound foundation for the ministry to sustain. It can take as long as twelve to twenty-four months to establish the parish nurse ministry. However, in taking that time and expending the effort it is more likely that the ministry will be integrated successfully into the life of the congregation.

Why is attendance at a basic preparation course using the standardized core curriculum in parish nursing recommended?

This is a professional model of health ministry because the nurse is a registered professional nurse and must work according to the nurse practice act of the state in which she/he is practicing and must also comply with the identified standards of the practice. Additionally, most nurses are not familiar with working in a congregation nor the theological perspectives on health and healing. This requires preparation for the role. The standardized core curriculum has been developed through the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. The curriculum has been developed through the IPNRC by 35 parish nurse experts from across the United States, Australia. This provides for a basic preparation of the nurse with content that over sixty educational institutions across the country are providing. This curriculum includes content on the theology of health as well as prayer and worship.

How much does the ministry of parish nursing cost?

The financial perspectives of the development and integration of the ministry of parish nursing practice depend largely on the organizational framework that is chosen, the size and resources of the congregation, the support of the pastor and the philosophy of the denomination. If the nurse is going to be paid then a salary range must be determined. Are there going to be any benefits included such as sick and vacation time? What supplies, material, equipment will be needed by the nurse? What kind of programming will the parish nurse be providing? What resources are available for that? Who will be paying for basic preparation of the nurse, liability insurance, and ongoing continuing education? Cost is an issue that is important to be dealt with early in the development of the ministry. Networking with others within your denomination or community may help in answering some of the financial questions early in the development of the ministry.

What about liability insurance?

Liability insurance is a must for both the parish nurse and the congregation. Coverage is available through many church denominations as well, as through other reources.

What can I do to prepare to have a parish nurse ministry as part of the congregation I serve?

Read the available literature on parish nursing. Re-look at Scripture from the perspective of health and healing. Perhaps enroll in a seminary course on health and healing and the congregation. This may provide a new perspective in which to preach to the members of the congregation where they are given the opportunity to begin to see how their congregation is really serving as a health place in the community. It is so important for clergy to be able to see the possibilities in revitalizing the mission of health and healing. The parish nurse ministry then becomes a concrete way in which to live out the call to preach, teach and heal.

How many parish nurse ministries are there in the United States?

There is no answer to this question. It is known that over 7000 nurses have been prepared using the standardized core curriculum in parish nursing. However, there are many more nurses who are using this title and have not had any preparation for the role. At the 2002 Westberg Symposium, over 650 parish nurses from across the United States and aboard were represented. The clear message is that it is growing. More people in more congregations are able to access a parish nurse to assist them in integrating their faith in addressing their health.

THE PARISH NURSING MINISTRY
is a health ministry which emphasizes the wholeness of body, mind, and spirit in congregations and communities. The ministry is based upon the assumption that the church is a place of health and healing and has a role in linking faith and health.

PARISH NURSING MINISTRY serves the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of individuals in community with one another in a congregation or agency and celebrates a reverence for life by joining in the journey towards well-being.

A PARISH NURSE is a registered Nurse who is called to a health and healing ministry in the church or community agency. As a church or agency staff team member, the Parish Nurse is committed to ongoing theological reflection and education, working with clergy, the congregation or agency and the community.

The Parish Nurse functions as:
An integrator of faith and health
A personal health and faith counsellor
A health educator
An advocate and referral resource
A multiplier of “ministers”



Information prepared by IPNRC.Text used with permission Accessed on Thursday, 16 March 2006.http://ipnrc.parishnurses.org/forcl.phtml

 

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