The life of a nurse is never boring, and their healing fingers not only touch hospitalized patients, but patients throughout the community. Nurses are helpers, healers, encouragers, hand-holders, listeners, educators, and advocates. Their presence in the community is needed, wanted, and encouraged. The presence of nurses in churches or faith-based community centers is an up and coming trend. They are experts at addressing vulnerable populations by putting events in place that help, educate, and steer these individuals in a healthier direction. Some of these vulnerable populations may include minorities, the elderly, and homeless populations. Faith community nurses help to bridge the gap between ministers, physicians, and church members (Nies & McEwen, 2019). Faith community nurses not only understand the science of medicine, but also understand the importance of faith, healing, touch, and prayer. Science and faith combined is the perfect potion for health and wellness.
The community setting for faith community nurses include churches, religious groups, faith-based community centers, temples, synagogues, or anywhere where faith, education, health, and wellness is needed. Faith community nursing started in 1979 as a pilot program with only six nurses in Illinois (Zeibarth, 2014). Chaplin Granger Westberg noted the need for these services and wanted to build a bridge that allowed health care access for his faith community to travel down (Zeibarth, 2014). There are over 15,000 faith community nurses now that serve in the United States and are also employed in over 23 different countries (Zeibarth, 2014).
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Faith community nurses have many different jobs to do. They serve as referral agents, health educators, personal health counselors, coordinators of volunteer groups, support group developers, and integrators of health and healing services (Nies & McEwen, 2019). Upon interviewing a nurse that volunteers for her local church group, she participates in many of the services listed above. D.S. volunteers for Our Lady of God Counsel (OLGC) Parish. OLGC, is located in Plymouth, Michigan at 47650 N. Territorial – Plymouth, MI 48170. OLGC is part of the Archdiocese of Detroit and consists of over 3000 members. Most of the members of this parish include young families and senior citizens. Since the size and resources of this parish are so plentiful, it is able to accommodate services for the homeless, senior citizens, children and babies in the community. Some of the services provided by this parish, and the nurses that volunteer there, are monthly blood pressure screenings, written articles on health-related topics for the parish bulletin, and personal visits for homebound and hospitalized patients.
Health Promotion Nursing Intervention
Health promotion provided through nursing interventions is one of the main goals of the faith community nurse. OLGC volunteer nurses provide services to not only their vulnerable population but whoever is in need. Some of the services that D.S. mentioned were the organization of health promotion events like diabetes education classes, bereavement classes, blood drives, parenting education programs, CPR/AED training, babysitting training, and most recently postpartum depression classes and support groups. She also reached out to their local high school and completed a presentation on vaping and the effects that it has on youth today.
Faith community nurses find themselves searching for ways to help vulnerable populations. A vulnerable population that is very apparent in today’s world is homebound individuals struggling with depression. A pilot project was examined that focused on community faith nurses assisting these individuals by using educational interventions based on the Creation Health Model (Parson, 2019). The CREATION Health Model suggests a recipe for living a healthy life and replicates the Bibles Genesis story of creation (Parson, 2019). The CREATION Model suggests eight ways to live a healthy life. Those eight suggestions include rest, choice, environment, activity, trust, interpersonal relationships, outlook, and nutrition (Parson, 2019). After a presentation of the study and agreeance from the homebound individuals, faith community nurses visited the homes of these individuals, completed assessments, and most importantly sat, talked, and shared together.
The conclusion of this study showed that homebound patients benefit from the CREATION model and the interventions lead by faith community nurses. They not only enjoyed their company, but were able to express concerns, discuss their faith, and interact with the outside world inside their homes. The nurses were able to screen for depression and assist this vulnerable population through a holistic approach, assessment and communication.
Professional Nursing Organization
Nurses Christian Fellowship is a professional nursing organization that provides nursing care to individuals and communities (Nursing Christian Fellowship, 2019). This organization focuses on the intentional care of the spirit and assists the community in healing or maintaining complete health of the mind, body, and spirit (Nursing Christian Fellowship, 2019). There is a Nurse Christian Fellowship located in Calhoun County, Michigan and many others across the country.
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One professional issue that is organization is working on, and found on their blog site, was incivility in the workplace (Nursing Christian Fellowship, 2019). They offer advice on how to deal with a toxic work environment. Nurse burnout is an issue that we all face. Nurse Christian Fellowship suggests going back to your biblical roots, pray for your enemies, draw strength from adversity, promote change, and much more. There were many other great blog posts that may help nurses and families deal with the day to day challenges of life.
Community health nurses and parish nurses have a very difficult but rewarding job. They are able to educate their community, organize healthy interventions, visit the sick and dying, and comfort families in need. There are many more activities that go on behind the scenes, but all of this is done while practicing their faith of choice. Parish nurses do not discriminate and offer help to anyone in need. They focus not only on the healthy community, but also the vulnerable ones. There are very few instances, in today’s society, where religion and employment work well together. Faith community nursing is able to bring religion and spirituality back into the lives of many and for the people who need it the most. “Prayer is the best medicine, God is the best doctor” (Bible Reasons, 2019, figure 1).
- Bible Reasons. (2019). http://biblereasons.com/medicine/
- Nies, M. A., & McEwen, M. (2019). Community/public health nursing: Promoting the health of populations (7th ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier.
- Nursing Christian Fellowship. (2019). http://ncf-jcn.org/nurses/faith-community-nursing
- Parson, L. J. (2019). Impacting depression in homebound elderly: A creation of health intervention for faith community nurses. Journal of Christian Nursing, 36(2), 96-103. https://doi.org/10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000593
- Zeibarth, D. (2014, December 1). Evolutionary conceptual analysis: Faith community nursing. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(6), 1817-1835. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-014-9918-z
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