First Baptist Church, Huntsville, AL
Thursday, April 24, 2014

What is Faith Community Nursing?

What is Parish Nursing?

The concept of Parish Nursing originated in 1984, with the work of Rev. Granger Westberg at Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Illinois. He believed that churches were a natural agency to assist their congregation and the community at large in achieving optimal wholistic health. Education programs for health ministers/parish nurses have been established and are now being offered by various hospitals and home health agencies across the country.

Here in Alabama, the Parish Nurse Course is being sponsored by the Alabama Woman's Missionary Union through its Baptist Nursing Fellowship, and supports the certificate program financially and administratively. Dr.Gretchen McDaniel is the parish nursing tract coordinator in Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and is central in advancing Parish Nursing in Alabama. Samford is one of only 50 institutions in the country with credentials to use the endorsed curriculum of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center in its certificate program.

Parish Nursing is a church-based health ministry to the whole person--mind, body, and spirit-that assists in maintenance of the health and wellness of church members and community. Parish nursing practice holds the spiritual dimension to be central to the practice. It also encompasses the physical, psychological and social dimensions of nursing practice.

The parish nurse role balances: knowledge and skill; the sciences, theology and humanities; service and worship; and nursing care with pastoral care functions. The historic roots of the role are intertwined with those of monks and nuns, deacons and deaconesses. Church nurses, traditional healers, and the nursing profession itself.

The focus of practice is the faith community and its ministry. The parish nurse in collaboration with the pastoral staff and congregational members participates in the ongoing transformation of the faith community into a source of health and healing. Through partnership with other community health resources, parish nursing fosters new and creative responses to health concerns.

Parish nursing services are designed to build on and strengthen capacities of individuals, families, and congregation to understand and care for one another in light of their relationship to God, faith traditions, themselves, and the broader society. The practice holds that all persons are sacred and must be treated with respect and dignity. In response to this belief, the parish nurse assists and empowers individuals to become more active partners in the management of their personal health resources.

The parish nurse understands health to be a dynamic process which embodies the spiritual, psychological, physical and social dimensions of the person. Spiritual health is central to well-being and influences a person's entire being. Therefore, a sense of well-being and illness may occur simultaneously. Healing may exist in the absence of cure.
 
 
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