How Can You Combine Your Love of Nursing and Ministry?

Sarah Schroyer, MSN, RN, CHPN, NE-BC, CNE

two GCU nurses standing in a hallway

As nurses, we strive to provide holistic care for our patients. This means being aware of their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Many nurses want to take their love for nursing and ministry a step further. One way they can do this is by becoming a Faith Community Nurse, once known as a Parish Nurse.

Faith Community Nursing is a specialty nursing focus. It is a model for holistic, faith-based health promotion. In addition to the rules and regulations that a Registered Nurse adheres to, a Faith Community Nurse also abides by the ANA’s Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. According to this document, a Faith Community Nurse (FCN) is, "...a specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as well as the promotion of whole-person health and the prevention or minimization of illness within the context of a faith community and the wider community" (ANA & HMA, 2017, p. 1). This specialty is embraced by both different Christian denominations and other faith traditions. No matter the community of faith, the emphasis is on spiritual formation, health, and wholeness, incorporating culture and diversity, and spiritual formation.

To become an FCN, additional education is taken past the baccalaureate level of nursing. Knowledge is needed for the community’s healthcare resources and assets, as well as specialized knowledge of the faith community’s spiritual beliefs and practices. Multiple organizations offer the expanded education needed to continue on this path. A few of the resources are included below.

Faith Community Nurses work in several settings, both in and out of the church setting. While larger denominations may employ a few FCNs, smaller denominations may share one FCN. These positions may be paid or voluntary. As an FCN, you may work in faith-based non-profits, charities, or any other area where spirit-based holistic care is needed.

While you do not need to have a master’s degree to become an FCN, the MSN-Public Health program at GCU is a great way to prepare for this specialty. The emphasis on public health allows masters-prepared nurses to gain a greater understanding of how to serve the community at large. Much like the FCN, Public Health Nurses work to prevent illness and disease and focus on population health. At GCU, students learn to provide population-based care that is aligned with Christian principles. They learn to recognize the unique roles that both patients' spirituality and their own spirituality play in the management of care and the decision-making processes involved in healthcare.

The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions helps students prepare for rewarding careers in the healthcare field. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the green Request More Information button at the top of the page.

References:

  • Catholic Health Association of the United States; https://www.chausa.org/nursing/faith-community-nursing The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation; https://www.faithhealthtransformation.org/resources-and-toolkits/faith-community-nursing/
  • Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing; https://westberginstitute.org/faith-community-nursing/
  • American Nurses Association [AMA] & Health Ministries Association, Inc. [HMA] (2017). Faith community nursing: Scope and standards of practice, (3rd ed.). Silver Spring, MD, Nursebooks.org.

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