Parish nurses provide valuable service to whole patient care
Lindy Kinser, an RN in Johnson City, works as a parish nurse for Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church. As part of the Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) Parish Nurse Program, Munsey's church members are served by Kinser, who provides education, support, and even companionship to those in the congregation who need her help.
"I'm there to meet their needs; it's about community service, whether it's answering questions, talking about healthcare, or simply holding a hand," shared Kinser, who has worked with MSHA for over 12 years.
Also called Faith Community Nursing, parish nursing is officially recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and operates through a church to provide preventive care and education. Programs focus on providing care to the whole person—physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
According to the ANA Guidelines, in order to practice as a parish nurse, a registered nurse should (1) be an RN with a current and valid license to practice nursing in the state where the ministry would be established; (2) be an active congregational member in the faith community to be served; and (3) should have medical/surgical, home health, or hospice experience but other nursing experiences considered.
Recognizing the importance of such programs, MSHA has partnered with several area churches to help provide financial support, as well as program guidance. As Kinser explained, members of the program meet monthly for support, to share resources, or to provide continuing education, which is essential, considering the vast array of patients they serve. These nurses must be prepared for anything from a newborn's family to seniors who are facing end-of-life concerns.
Many parish nurses host clinics and screenings as well. Parishioners can also take advantage of health screenings, church and community educational programs, health fairs, individual and family counseling.
"I often visit nursing homes and senior living facilities or seniors who have recently been discharged from the hospital," said Kinser. "The elderly are often isolated and lack support."
As she explained, in many cases she is needed to simply answer questions about the doctor's orders or to help work out a medication schedule. "Sometimes I simply sit down and write out a chart for medications, when and what to take according to the doctor's instructions," Kinser said.
While parish nursing may sound a lot like home health nursing, the difference lies primarily in the attention to the spiritual, rather than just physical. "We try and add the spiritual component with the physical aspect of healing," Kinser explained. "We pray with our patients as well as talk about their spiritual health when they wish. They really enjoy and appreciate the prayers."
Preparation at Memorial Healthcare System in Chattanooga
In Chattanooga, nurses interested in learning more about parish nursing can enroll in Memorial Healthcare System's Faith Community/Parish Nurse Preparation Program. The program offers education and instruction to religious leaders, congregations, and registered nurses about parish nursing and health ministry.
The program combines factual information and theological reflection, and enrollees discover new understandings of whole-person care. The program requirements include (1) completion of a written application; (2) proof of a valid, current RN License in the State where the ministry will be established; (3) active participation in the faith community to be served; and (4) an interview with the coordinator prior to acceptance into the class.
Participants sign up for three 8-hours days (8:30AM - 4:30PM) and three 3-hour evening sessions (4:30PM - 7:30PM), and completion of all sessions (for a total of 33 contact hours) is required for credit. Those interested in participating can contact Connie Blake, Coordinator of Faith Community/Parish Nursing by calling 495-6163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dates for the Fall 2010 Faith Community Nurses Class
• Completed application due by August 2, 2010
• Tuition deposit due by August 10, 2010
• Classes: August 18 & 25 and September 1 from 8:30AM to 4:30PM, and September 7 & 21 and October 5 from 4:30PM to 7:30PM
• Commissioning on October 12 at 6:00PM
Faith Community Nursing in Knoxville
The Center for Faith Community Nursing at Tennessee Wesleyan College - Fort Sanders Nursing Department provides continuing education workshops for Parish Nurses and others interested in providing spiritual care to patients/clients. A complete Faith Community Nurse Basic Preparation Course will be offered once or twice a year as the need arises. The curriculum for the Basic Preparation Course is endorsed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center.
For more information, contact Lisa Kirkland, Coordinator, at the Center for Faith Community Nursing, 9821 Cogdill Road, Suite 2, Knoxville, TN 37932 or through email at email@example.com