Parish Nurse or Faith Community Nursing

Learn about parish nursing careers and education.

Parish nursing is the intentional integration of the practice of nursing with the beliefs of a religious community. A parish nurse is a registered nurse (RN) specialist who encourages physical and spiritual health and wholeness by developing and leading programs within faith communities.

Career Overview

The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines Faith Community Nursing (FCN) as “the specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as part of the process of promoting holistic health and preventing or minimizing illness in a faith community.”

Rather than dealing primarily with sickness in a faith community, parish nurses focus on wellness, disease prevention and health promotion. Responsibilities may include:

  • Health education and teaching
  • Personal health counseling for faith community members
  • Coordinating with community health resources and acting as a church liaison
  • Training and coordinating volunteers in support services
  • Organizing health support groups
  • Assessing congregational and community health needs
  • Responding to health-related issues such as substance abuse, addictions and violence within congregational families or the surrounding community

Parish Nurse Education

To become a parish nurse, you must first become a licensed registered nurse (RN) by one of three educational paths:

You may then choose from a variety of specialized educational programs specific to parish nursing or faith community nursing. These include the following programs:

  • Short parish nurse preparation courses
  • A master’s program that integrates nursing and faith ministry
  • A doctoral program that integrates nursing and faith ministry
  • If you already have a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN), you can pursue a post-master’s certificate

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