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Parish nursing, still a young and evolving specialty practice, is taking steps toward certification. According to leaders in faith community nursing (FCN), certification is close to becoming a reality. There is concern that the title of parish/faith community nurse is being used without basic preparation or appropriate credentials, but for those who meet the criteria there may soon be a way to be recognized as a specialty practice nurse in the same way other specialties are acknowledged.


Initially FCN certification will not require a formal examination. Parish nurses will progress through a Web-based portfolio recognition process. An FCN recognition task force from the Health Ministries Association (HMA) is working with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to develop this process. While this may sound easier than an examination, the process is extensive and many criteria must be met, such as meeting the standards set forth in the Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (American Nurses Association [ANA] & HMA, 2005). The first step in the process results in recognition, not certification. When the ANCC deems the portfolio recognition process to have sufficient data to statistically validate elements included in the process, recognition will transition to credentialed status.


Required elements for the portfolio process, expected to be available in 2010, include a resume, letters of support, peer evaluation, a spiritual journey, spiritual leadership, three evidence-based case studies, and a description of the faith community in which the FCN works. Cost is $270 for HMA members and $390 for non-HMA members. Go to the International Parish Nurse Resource Center Web site,, and search for "certification" to keep updated on this process.


Note that the ANCC offers an online portfolio process to all nurses interested in tracking professional development information. For an annual fee of $59.95, the portfolio serves as an online safety-deposit box that travels with you throughout your nursing career (


ANA & HMA (2005). Faith community nursing: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Springs, MD, Nurses [Context Link]