Parish nurses play a very important role in the field of healthcare. They provide specialized services for patients in need. When it comes to receiving care with a spiritual foundation, a parish nurse is an individual that can provide this type of care. Parish nursing has been around since the mid-1980s, and approximately 15,000 nurses in the United States have the title of parish nurse. Over 130 schools around the world offer training to become a parish nurse.
What is a Parish Nurse?
A parish nurse is a registered nurse with at least 2 years of work-related experience. These individuals provide care in a faith-based community for patients suffering from health issues. They have specialized expertise in nursing. Their services may include the following:
- Training volunteers
- Providing health screenings for patients
- Visiting members of the church at hospitals and at home
- Creating supports groups within churches
- Counseling patients on health-related issues
- Teaching classes on maintaining excellent health
- Helping patients adapt to lifestyle changes
- Helping people get needed health services
- Providing patients with referrals to resources in the community
- Coordinating volunteers
A parish nurse does not provide care for patients in their homes or in churches; they coordinate currently available services and provide patients with holistic dimensions of healthcare.
In additions to providing spiritual, physical, social, and emotional care that lead to healing, healthy faith-based relationships, parish nurses play several roles, including:
- Teacher to others—especially volunteers
- Health advisor
- Mental, spiritual, community, and body healer
- Educator for others about health issues
- Advocate for patients
- Community resource provider
- Faith liaison
- Support group developer
Parish Nursing Certification
The registered nurse credentials are necessary to become a parish nurse. Some choose to earn a diploma, 2-year degree, or a 4-year degree to become a parish nurse. Licensed practical nurses (LPN) are very limited in their nursing abilities, but it is still possible to become a parish nurse with this level of education. Most parish nurses hold a bachelors or masters degree in nursing. No matter what education route that nurses choose to take, they should receive their degrees from an accredited college or university with a nursing school program to receive the best employment opportunities.
In order to certify as a parish nurse, it is necessary to meet the specific requirements in the practicing state. These requirements include supervised clinical experience and classroom curriculum. They must past a licensing examination (NCLEX-RN) to receive the registered nurse credentials. Continuing education hours are necessary in order to receive renewal of the nursing certificate. Each state has its own requirements, but nurses can get this information from their education program or their state’s board of nursing.
Currently there are no specific certification tests to specialize in parish nursing, but most congregations and parishes prefer nurses who have received an additional amount of training in parish nursing. Most nursing professionals are not familiar with the theological aspects of wellness, health, and healing, nor are they familiar with working with congregations.
Parish Nurse Salary
The decision to become a parish nurse is more about helping others than the nurse salary. They get to travel to various environments providing spiritual healing for the patients and their families. Many choose to participate in mission work so that they can spread spiritual healing abroad.
The average annual salaries for parish nurses are $15,000. The salary ranges for parish nurses are $10,000 to $45,000 annually. Only about 35% of parish nurses are compensated for their services. Many parish nurses provide their services to the community outside of their full-time nursing positions in a healthcare setting. They provide a remarkable service that cannot be compensated with any amount of money.
Parish Nursing Jobs Outlook
The demand for qualified nursing professionals continues to grow. The next decade will be very promising for qualified, licensed nurses. The increase in the need for parish nursing is due partly to a substantial number of aging individuals in the community. Many people are returning to their spiritual roots as they age, and parish nurses can provide them with the spiritual healing that they need. Many older people no longer have family and friends alive so they turn to the church for help in addition to the existing medical care that they are receiving. Parish nursing jobs can provide the support that patients need during their time of need.
There is a great need for parish nurses that can feed the spiritual needs of ailing patients. It takes special individuals to become parish nurses, and an abundance of opportunities to meet new people and travel the world are waiting for those who are interested in becoming parish nurses.