Parish nurses are like angels of mercy; they can be found everywhere in the community, including the hospital setting where they minister holistic healthcare with respect to the body, mind and spirit.
Paulette Golden, MS, RN, Carol King, BSN, RN, and Cindy Bozarth, BSN, RN, have one very important quality in common. They are all parish nurses for Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW).
Golden, who earned employee of the year in 2007, said God prepared her for her role as a parish nurse through her passion of giving.
"The primary focus of the faith community nurse is health promotion/disease prevention and the integration ofÊfaith and health," Golden said. "The most frequent nursing interventions are educator, referral agent, integrator of faith and health advocate. We partner with the churches in the community and focus on building relationships."
Not Just a Job
King volunteers as a part-time parish nurse at Rush Creek Christian Church and works as a full-time school nurse in Arlington, TX.
"Parish nursing allows me to practice the art of nursing, not just the job of nursing," King said. "I want to give to the community. Sometimes they just need to talk and they know they can trust me.
"Our church is having a back-to-school fair Aug. 23 with free immunizations," she noted. "The fair is open to the whole community. We are pulling all of our resources together and focusing on wellness. We now have four nurses in our congregation and have formed a wellness committee, which includes a social worker, nutrition educator, chiropractor, physician and radiologist."
The Challenges of Parish Nursing
Golden, who serves as a coach and a mentor to the parish nurses, schedules bimonthly meetings with them. As a nurse for more than 30 years, Golden joined Harris in 1999 and started the faith community nurse program 6 years ago.
"The major challenge is the lack of time and money because this is a relatively new role of nurses in our area and it's not a paid position," Golden said. "The nurses all work full or part time in other traditional nursing areas. The lack of support and endorsement of the faith community leader and ministry team bring on other challenges." Regardless, Golden's focus on community remains strong.
"For a program to succeed and grow, the faith community must embrace health and healing within its missionÊand organizational planning," Golden said. "We are now doing the program in HEB and Plano, and growing into other communities."
According to Golden, faith community nursing is a subspecialty of the American Nurses Association, and the Scope and Standards of Practice curriculum is inclusive and diverse.
"We have 72 nurses who serve all denominations, which include 33 churches in Tarrant County," she said.
Ministering Holistic Healthcare
Bozarth also is coached by Golden as a paid part-time parish nurse for the Lighthouse Fellowship United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, TX. Bozarth brings 20 years as an ICU nurse to work in the surgical recovery room at HMFW 3 days a week and 2 days a week as a parish nurse.
"I minister to all ages," Bozarth said. "I enjoy reaching the real world outside of a hospital setting and ministering holistic healthcare with respect to the body, mind and spirit. As a parish nurse, I am able to focus on the spiritual component."
Bozarth experienced a strong call to minister about 10 years ago while nursing full time.
"I didn't know what to do," Bozarth said. "I thought I was supposed to close the door on my nursing career. God put this path of parish nursing before me. My pastor asked if I would serve as the parish nurse. I give all the glory to God. He made me realize I could do both at the same time."
As Bozarth shared, parish nurses do many things, from teaching the youth to comforting the hurting.
"On Wednesday night, we had a family event, bible study and a youth activity where we taught the kids how to make first aid kits," Bozarth said. "We taught them how to render first aid to a child with a skinned knee, and washing hands to the song Happy Birthday.
"In another situation, one of the members lost her husband in a freak motorcycle accident," she said. "He had a severe brain injury; I got to be with her and explain the various monitors and rhythm changes, as well as recite the 23rd Psalm with her.
"If every church had a parish nurse, just think about the impact we could have on the health of our country," Bozarth said. "The church is the hub of the community. People come to church in family units so you can reach out with a health initiative to the entire family. Parish nurses bring it all together, the body, mind, spirit for the entire community, serving one person at a time, one church at a time."
Amy McGuire is regional editor at ADVANCE. <% footer %>