What's It Like to Be a Parish Nurse?
From the Army to the ChurchI like being able to help others, assist them in becoming self-sufficient, and give them information on preventing health issues and maintaining a healthy lifestyle within my church community.
What Is Parish Nursing?According to the Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing:
Faith community nurses are licensed, registered nurses who practice holistic health for self, individuals and the community using nursing knowledge combined with spiritual care. They function in paid and unpaid positions as members of the pastoral team in a variety of religious faiths, cultures, and countries. The focus of their work is on the intentional care of the spirit, assisting the members of the faith community to maintain and/or regain wholeness in body, mind, and spirit.I've been the parish nurse at Trinity Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, since February 2016 (Figure 2).
We would meet at the church on Monday mornings in the gym and have devotion, which consisted of a song, a prayer, and a Bible verse. We walked all around Bush Hills, a main thoroughfare near the church. At the end of one of these walks, I remember that one of my members would have to take a few moments to catch her breath before talking with me. For a long time, no matter when I would return from an active-duty tour, she would always inform me that she was still walking. Maintaining this type of community connection is a very important aspect of parish nursing.
The Challenges of Parish NursingThe work of a parish nurse can be challenging, however. Sometimes there are not enough human and material resources to accomplish our goals. Sometimes, on the day of an event, there is simply not enough help. However, I always find joy in seeing other people smile and I am fulfilled when I am being of service. For me, if a church member learns at least one thing to make his or her quality of life better, then the sacrifice of my time and talent is worth it.
Many people have found that it isn't always easy to pray with someone who is dying, hurting, or suffering. As parish nurses, we learn that it is OK to be silent and the importance of touch.
Jacqueline Walker would like to acknowledge the assistance of Tonya Williams-Walker in the preparation of this article.