What Does a Parish Nurse Do?
Parish nurses have essentially the same duties and responsibilities as any other nurse. The difference with general nursing and parish nursing is in the fact that parish nurses work within faith communities to provide health care services to those of the same religion. These nurses educate members of the same faith on health topics, provide counseling, and offer care to patients within the faith community from infancy to adulthood. Many parish nurses follow a holistic healing approach, meaning that their view on health care is that balance of the body and mind is essential in achieving good overall health. Faith plays a big part in achieving balance, and therefore health care in parish nursing focuses largely on matters of faith, though not all parish nurses follow the same denomination. These nurses can work in community health centers and parishes, though they may follow different goals and work regimes depending on their specific employers.
How Can I Become a Parish Nurse?
Only registered nurses can become parish nurses, so those interested in joining this particular field need to look into earning their registered nursing license. To do so, prospective nurses can follow one of three educational tracks: earn a diploma, associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Typically, nursing programs will not have too many classes devoted to parish nursing, so nurses should choose classes that focus on similar related topics like counseling, faith and healing. After completing an accredited and approved nursing program, nursing students will gain the opportunity to take the NCLEX-RN examination, which is the test that determines whether or not the student will gain licensure. Upon successful completion of the NCLEX-RN exam, the new nurses can begin working professionally in clinics, hospitals, and other health care facilities. In addition to a higher education and licensure, parish nurses must also display a firm understanding of the faith in which they wish to practice as well as a grasp on how to successfully integrate medicine and religion.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Parish Nurse?
Though there is little published information on the statistics of parish nursing – including exactly how many parish nurses are currently employed – those interested in joining the field can take solace in the fact that the nursing occupation as a whole is booming. Registered nurses make up the single biggest occupation in the health care industry, with approximately 2.6 million jobs belong to registered nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Amazingly, that number is projected to grow 22 percent in the upcoming years, pouring in another 581,500 jobs into the market. Undoubtedly, this means that there will be openings in the parish nursing field as well. However, not all churches employ parish nurses, so finding these job openings may prove to be a challenge, though it is not a challenge that is impossible to overcome. Many of these nurses work as unpaid volunteers, though some may earn a salary from the church or community center in which they are employed. The salary for paid parish nurses varies greatly from institution to institution, with nurses earning anywhere from $300 to $1,000 a month.