Definition of Parish Nurse:  Parish Nursing (also known as Faith Community Nursing) is a unique, specialized practice of professional nursing which focuses on the promotion of health within the context of the values, beliefs, and practices of a faith community – this includes the church and it’s ministries to its members, as well as the community in which it is located. Health is viewed not only as the absence of disease, but as a sense of physical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being. Healing is the process of integrating the body, mind and spirit to create wholeness, health, and a sense of well-being, even when a cure does not occur.

A Faith Community Nurse (FCN)  is a registered nurse with a minimum of 2 year’s experience who works within a faith community to address health issues of its members and the broader community. The FCN holds current licensure in the state in which the faith community exists and works according to the Scopes and Standards of Practice as set forth by the American Nurses Association. The Faith Community Nurse has advance training in this specialty by having completed a Faith Community Nurse foundations course. The FCN uses his/her experience in assessing the health status and needs of the members and/or community. Center to this practice is the intentional care of the spirit of those the Faith Community Nurse assists. The Faith Community Nurse has several roles:

  • H – Health adviser
  • E – Educator on health issues
  • A – Advocate/resource person
  • L – Liaison to faith and community resources 
  • T – Teacher of volunteers and developer of support groups
  • H – Healer of body, mind, spirit, and community

It is important to note that Faith Community Nurses do not provide hands-on patient care but, instead, act as a source of referrals for services in the community. They coordinate existing services and supplement them with a holistic dimension of health and caring.

Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministries are non-denominational, serving in all faith traditions. Currently there are more than 15,000 Faith Community Nurses in the United States and the practice is rapidly growing around the world.

Faith Community Nurses work in collaboration with clergy, volunteers, health ministry committees, and agencies and organizations concerned with health.

For more information on becoming a Faith Community Nurse, contact the  Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing (formerly known as the International Parish Nurse Resource Center) at www.churchhealthcenter.org/fcnhome.  The  Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing has a number of web-based, print, and DVD resources available.

Health Ministries Association, Inc. (HMA) is a professional membership organization for Faith Community Nurses, health ministers, program leaders and spiritual leaders.  HMA represents  Faith Community Nurses and this specialized nursing practice to the American Nurses Association (ANA).  Additionally, HMA is partnered with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) who offers certification in Faith Community Nursing.  They also are a source of much information and resources.  For more information, visit their website at hmassoc.org.

One more source for connection in the Faith Community Nurse profession would be Faith Community Nurses International.  They have a singular strong vision:  A vibrant global network of Faith Community Nurses.  Check out their website at FCNInternational.org.