Parish Nurse Ministries

Parish nurses, lay health advocates and other health ministers are people with professional training in a health related field who use their background to serve the needs of the church community. A parish nurse is a registered nurse with additional training in holistic ministry, helping members of the congregation to become more aware of their health and move toward a fuller sense of wholeness.

A health ministry combines the therapeutic qualities of church, community, and faith in God to strengthen the healing task.

What Parish Nurses Do:

Parish nurses engage in a variety of ministries:

  • Visit church members at home or in the hospital.
  • Provide counseling on health-related issues.
  • Make referrals to community resources and provide assistance in obtaining needed health services.
  • Assist members in adapting to important lifestyle changes.
  • Teach classes on how to maintain good health.
  • Provide health screenings.
  • Develop support groups within the church.
  • Train and coordinate volunteers.

Parish nurses are not expected to provide patient care in the church or at a patient's home. They are a source of referrals for services available in the community. They coordinate existing services and supplement them with a holistic dimension of health and caring.

How Parish Nurses Work

Parish nurses customize their practice to meet the needs of the congregation. Registered nurses serving as parish nurses must hold a current license in the state of practice and follow the Scope and Standards of Faith Community Nursing Practice of the American Nurses Association and the Health Ministry Association.

Parish Nurses Are Church Staff

Parish nurses are ministers of health and members of the church staff. A parish nurse program can operate in several different ways:

  • One church supporting their own full or part-time nurse.
  • Several churches supporting one nurse.
  • A group of volunteer nurses supporting one or several churches.
  • A nurse related to a hospital or clinic who supports a church or churches as part of his or her job.