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Would your faith community benefit from a Faith Community Nurse?

October 12, 2020

Submitted by Donna Newkirk, MSN, APRN-BC, FCN

Wellness is a simple word, yet one that can be defined in so many ways. What do you picture when you imagine health and wellness? Is it a strong body? A mind open and continuously learning? A vibrant faith? A life filled with love and support? Perhaps all of these visions come together at once for you. Our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health are inextricably linked, so how can we tend to all the dimensions of health and wellness in our faith communities? This is where Faith Community Nursing steps in. 

The primary goal of Faith Community Nursing (FCN) is to minister to the spiritual health of a Faith Community while also helping members of the Faith Community with their physical, mental, and emotional needs. FCN combines the practice of professional nursing with the tradition of Congregational Care Ministry, with the goal of improving the overall holistic health of our Faith Community.

About Faith Community Nursing

  • The primary focus of FCN is on the intentional care of the spirit (spiritual health), as well as the promotion of holistic (physical, emotional, and spiritual) health.
  • The overall goal of FCN is improving the overall health of the Faith Community of which they are a part, which includes prevention or minimization of illness within a Faith Community through the practice of professional nursing.
  • The Faith Community consists of everyone who works at, is a member of, or attends a congregation of faith. Faith Community Nurses come from within the Faith Community they serve.
  • Faith Community Nurses are an unpaid/volunteer position. They work together with the clergy, church committees, and the congregation to provide opportunities for the ongoing transformation of the Faith Community into sources of health and healing of body, mind, and spirit.
  • FCN can be a part of Congregational Care Ministries and works together with all of the Ministry’s groups in order to provide holistic care in a coordinated and integrated manner.
  • Faith Community Nurses aim to foster new and creative responses to health and wellness concerns identified by the Faith Community.

Qualifications of Faith Community Nurses

  • FCN’s are Registered Nurses licensed by the State Board of Nursing to practice in their state.
  • FCN’s have professional malpractice insurance policies.
  • FCN’s have completed a specialized 40-hour training course to prepare them for the role.
  • FCN’s follow the Scope and Standards of Practice for Faith Community Nursing.
  • FCN’s understand and maintain strict confidentiality.
Desired Outcomes of Faith Community Nursing
  • Education of the Faith Community on health issues of interest through the use of announcements, newsletters, and other media, as well as the offering of classes and programs.
  • Health promotion by sharing information that the Faith Community can use to improve health on both individual and community levels, such as sponsoring blood pressure screenings and community health fairs.
  • Communication/collaboration with the clergy, the congregation, church committees, and the Congregational Care Ministry team about how to successfully address health concerns identified by the Faith Community.
  • Provide guidance to people in the congregation by providing trained Faith Community Nurses the venue to answer medical questions in a safe, judgment-free, confidential environment.
  • Building relationships with local health and social service care providers, so as to share their knowledge of these resources with their Faith Community and refer individuals to local community resources as appropriate.
  • Emergency preparation to make sure that our Faith Community is ready to respond in various circumstances, such as minor injuries (by having and maintaining first aid kits), major health events within the church (by having and maintaining AEDs), or even a community-wide emergency (by learning and practicing disaster preparedness).
  • Stewardship by teaching individuals how to become caretakers of their own personal health, and working with the clergy and congregation to become stewards of the overall health of the Faith Community.

What Faith Community Nursing Does NOT Cover

  • Routine medical treatment of individuals in the church or in their home that they would normally get from their primary care provider (Physician, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician’s Assistant).
  • Prescribing or dispensing medications of any kind.
  • Creating a free health clinic inside the church.
  • Nursing care that must be directed or supervised by a physician’s orders.
  • Routine medical care that is the responsibility of agencies under the client’s provider’s direction (such as Home Health or Hospice).

Examples

  • A Faith Community Nurse can refer someone to a local healthcare provider, such as a pediatrician for a family with small children or an obstetrician for a pregnant woman.
  • An FCN can teach or sponsor classes on health subjects such as fall prevention in the elderly, healthy eating, how to fill out Advanced Directives, and more.
  • An FCN can provide initial emergency care in the church, such as: First Aid, CPR, and use of an AED. 
  • An FCN can accompany someone to their provider’s office to act as an advocate, help explain confusing medical terminology, and explain prescription medications.
  • An FCN can visit someone at home who is recovering from a surgery. The purpose of the visit is not medical in nature, but because of their training, the FCN can use their assessment skills and judgment to recommend that the person be seen by their provider or go to the Emergency Room if they identify a legitimate medical concern. 
  • An FCN can coordinate with Congregational Care to refer a new widow or widower to the Grief Group, arrange for them to receive a prayer shawl, and ask if they would like for someone to visit them at home.
What support is needed from a Faith Community to have a FCN?
  • Have a rider on their church insurance for faith community nursing
  • Support FCNs as volunteers
  • Assist them to function within church tradition
  • Assist implementation of the program by
    • Planning with them on an agreed upon basis
    • Allowing access to copy machines and other office needs
    • Including them in a similar manner as with other volunteers
    • Providing a private place to meet with clients
    • Assisting them to obtain double locked file cabinets for documentation
Does your Faith Community need a Faith Community Nurse?  

To learn more about Faith Community Nursing in the Mountain Sky area visit http://fcnrockies.org/  or The Westberg Institute at https://westberginstitute.org/

Please see the attached flyer for information on a Faith Community Nursing Online Course that begins Jan. 14, 2021.