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  • The Value of a Parish Nurse to a Congregation

Published on September 19, 2012

The Value of a Parish Nurse to a Congregation

Mary Ann Wortmann, BSN, RN, MS
Avera Sacred Heart Parish Nurse Coordinator

A parish nurse, in partnership with the clergy and the health ministry team, can be a catalyst in transforming the caring, communal spirit of the church. The parish nurse who is grounded and educated in spirituality and health, guides others in taking positive action regarding wellness, prevention and treatment of illness and in navigating the mazes of the health care system and community resources.

It is crucial to be present to those suffering or experiencing life transitions. This is a relational ministry where "accompanying" takes precedence over "doing." The parish nurse and the health ministry team raise awareness of appropriate ways to respond to needs for congregational care. Mobilizing and preparing others in the congregation to develop and use their gifts in caring ministries is important. The church's ability to carry out Jesus' work and accompany others through joys and sorrows is central to our being the community that we promise to be.

Care of the body, mind and spirit, with intentional care of the spirit at the core, defines parish nursing.

Parish nurse assumptions are that health is the integration of the body, mind and spirit and includes faith, hope, and meaning as well as one's relationship with self, others, the environment and God. Any imbalance in one area affects the total harmonious relationship. Healing and a sense of well being can take place even when cure is not possible.

Many health issues could be prevented if people adopted positive life behaviors. Lack of information is often a problem, but some reasons why people make poor choices are related to feelings of stress, hopelessness, despair and poor self-esteem. The church is an ideal place to address these challenges related to spirituality and faith. Spiritual health is a profound resource for recovery.

If interested in a Parish Nurse program for your congregation, please contact me and I will help you find the resources to answers your questions and get you started.

Mary Ann Wortmann, BSN, RN, MS
Avera Sacred Heart Parish Nurse Coordinator
501 Summit, Yankton SD 57078