1. Hinton, Sharon T.

Article Content

Parish/faith community nursing blends the practice of faith with the practice of nursing to assist people in moving toward wholistic health through their church environment. The long-term relationship between parish nurses and members of the congregation is key to wholistic care. In the January-March (27/1) issue, we examined the role of prayer leader. Another role as defined by the American Nurses Association (ANA) Scope & Standards of Practice is coordinator of care (ANA & Health Ministries Association [HMA], 2005, p. 18). To fully understand this role, let's first look at what parish nurses do not do. Parish nurses

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* do not diagnose or treat illness (even though church members often ask them to!!)


* do not dispense medications or provide prescribed treatments like a home health nurse


* do not provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, or psychotherapy


* do not marry, bury, or preach like clergy (Patterson, 2008, p. 34).



As a coordinator of care, parish nurses act as advocates and referral agents to assist members of their congregations to navigate through the fragmented and confusing maze of healthcare. A parish nurse works with the patient, family, physician, hospital, discharge planner, home health agency, therapists, pharmacy, clergy, long-term care, hospice, and others such as the Social Security Administration, Meals-on-Wheels, and other service organizations to provide appropriate, coordinated care. It is expected that a parish nurse will visit and gather information about local resources in the area served by his or her church. By establishing relationships with other nurses and healthcare providers, the parish nurse is better able to serve members of the congregation when a need arises. Note parish nurses do not make referral decisions, but provide available options and information to assist the individual or family to make good choices. Documentation of the coordination of care is always done in a manner that assures privacy.


Discussion Forum

The last quarterly question asked readers to share a successful project or program. Keep sending responses!!


A new question: How has your faith touched your nursing or your nursing touched your faith walk? Responses will be developed into an article relating nursing practice to faith. I look forward to hearing from you!! Send replies to:

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As an explanation for the rapid growth of parish nursing across the world, it is important to revisit the foundation of Christian nursing:

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Christian nursing is a ministry of compassionate care for the whole person, in response to God's grace toward a sinful world, which aims to foster optimum health and bring comfort in suffering and death for anyone in need. Nursing is a response to God's grace that flows from a dynamic personal relationship with God. It is a ministry of the church and functions in the context of the body of Christ. It views the person as created in the image of God. It is demonstrated in compassionate care that is characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) (Shelly & Miller, 2006, p. 244).


Resource Toolbox


* HMA and the International Parish Nurse Resource Center (IPNRC) announced November 3, 2009 the joint decision to suspend work with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) on the "Recognition by Portfolio" process for faith community nurses. HMA and IPNRC determined it is better for the long-term future of our professional specialty that we take time to reorganize resources to meet the needs of ANCC and our respective organizations. Check for updates at


* UMCOR-Health Parish Nurses has updated the content on their Web site:


* Nurse Oncology Education Program is offering free online continuing education on pain management for nurses.


* Pittsburgh Mercy Health System is offering "The Faith Connection," a free health ministry newsletter. Contact



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American Nurses Association (ANA) & Health Ministries Association (HMA). (2005). Faith community nursing scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD: Author. [Context Link]


Patterson, D. (2008). Health ministries: A primer for clergy and congregations. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim. [Context Link]


Shelly, J., & Miller, A. (2006). Called to care: A Christian worldview for nursing. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. [Context Link]